About a year and a half ago, our washing machine flooded the laundry room. I was rushing out the door to get our kids to swimming lessons and walked into a flood of soap and water. Can you imagine the panic? I then found myself vacuuming up water and trying to keep it out of the kitchen. Needless to say, we made it to swim class on time and I arrived presoaked.

We were left without a washing machine for nearly a month, a month when my husband and two kids caught a bad case of pink eye. So, you can imagine how hard it was to be constantly washing clothes, sheets, and towels without a washer. I was about six months pregnant at the time and was trying to avoid pink eye like it was the plague.

Later, I talked to my grandma, who lives three hours away in a small mountain town, about what happened. She told me all about how her family had to wash diapers in the creek near their home when children were little. I also learned about how they had to wring the laundry out instead of using a dryer. Our conversation, and the month at the laundry mat, made me realize how fortunate I was to have a washing machine.

Fast forward to last summer when my husband and I sat in my grandma’s living room, in that same sweet house in the same small town. The house my dad and his siblings had grown up in. The house I had spent so many Thanksgivings and Christmases as a child. And now the house my children constantly want to take the long drive to, because of how fun it is. My grandpa had passed away a week before and we were visiting with my grandma after his celebration of life. The room was dark and despite her being strong throughout my grandpa’s long illness and passing, I could see it all catching up with her.

They had married when she was 16 and were happily married for 64 years. Theirs is a love story we don’t get to see much anymore. One where God is first, marriage is forever, hard work pays off, and true love is the key. The kind of love story I pray my husband and I can model for our children. The kind of love story I hope they can find one day.

As we sat with her, she told us that she earlier she had done a load of laundry and washed three pairs of my grandpa’s underwear. That was all he had in that load. And she realized, that was the last of his clothing she would ever wash. Sixty-four years of doing his laundry was over. She would never wash any clothing of his again.

Like you, I am always behind on laundry. We have three kids ages one to five. There is always a load that needs to be washed, or folded, or is just sitting in the dryer on the fluff cycle because I just can’t get to it. It can be overwhelming. It can be exhausting. It can drive me crazy. Underwear, socks, dinosaur sheets, swim suits, coats, superhero capes, princess dresses, baby onesies, plus my husband’s workout clothes and socks, and work clothes. Not to mention the sink full of sippy cups, the kids who need help buckling into their carseats, the pile of tennis shoes, and the vacuuming.

But there will come a time when I won’t ever wash another pair of princess panties. There will come a time when I have washed the last set of dinosaur sheets. There will come a time when I don’t have baby onesies to wash. There will come a time when I have washed my husband’s last workout shirt or collared work shirt.

And in the moments of being overwhelmed with laundry and dishes and cleaning and everything else that goes into this season of life, I will remember the realization my grandma had when she washed the love of her life’s last three pairs of underwear. I will be thankful I have a washing machine and don’t have to wash cloth diapers in the creek, or wring out clothes on the wringer. I will be thankful for the seemingly unending dresses, socks, dress pants, capes, onesies, panties, and sheets. I will be thankful for the people who make the dirty clothes for me to wash. I will be thankful for the people who make the crumbs for me to vacuum. Time with our loved ones is fleeting and I will be thankful for it every day.

Originally published on Parent.co 

Emily Scott

Emily Scott, PhD, is a stay at home mom of three, and part time parenting consultant and blogger who has written and spoken on various parenting topics including child development, ACEs, and tips on raising responsible kids.