The Blessing of a Broken Washing Machine

The Blessing of a Broken Washing Machine

Two weeks ago, half way up my mountain of Chol HaMoed laundry, our overworked washing machine, of blessed memory, spinned its last.

And that meant that for two weeks, until yesterday, my family of 10 did not have a washing machine. It was, as you can imagine, quite a pain.

But I want to tell you two sweet side effects of our washing machine’s untimely demise.

Firstly, after doing 8 loads of laundry yesterday (9 kilo a piece!) the fragrance of fresh laundry fills my entire home. I never knew Tide could smell so sweet!

Secondly, before last Shabbat, when I ran out of white shirts and Yaakov and Yoni ran out of shorts and I needed a Shabbat dress for Tsofia, I did something I absolutely detest doing, and which I tend to avoid at almost all costs.

I asked for a favor.

I announced on the neighborhood English list that I am washing-machine-less. And if any kind soul could do a load of laundry for me, it would be mightily appreciated by me, my husband, and our offspring.

Within minutes, 4 mothers offered to do laundry for me: two of whom I’d never even met.

Asking favors feels really yucky: uncomfortable, vulnerable.

But it was a fascinating experience. To be forced to ask for help, and to receive it.

I was touched, and floored…when one volunteer laundress called to ask if I wanted her to add fabric softener to my load. And when another mother (in her 9th month!) returned my laundry neatly folded (to which my 11-year-old son responded, in shock “What IS that!?”). And another mother (whom I’d never met) did my laundry, I found out, while preparing for her only son’s upsherin the following day.

My broken washing machine showed me just how sweet it is to receive.

And how nurtured and blessed I felt…

Which made me think how nurtured and blessed our children and husbands hopefully feel, when we give to them. Every day. Day in, day out.

A feeling almost as sweet, I imagine, as the fragrance of Tide filling my home after 2 weeks without.

11 comments

  1. Mi k’amcho Yisroel!!

  2. but chana jenny of course our husbands and children don’t feel this way

    we’ve been giving to them since the day they met us

    nonstop

    they come to expect it and then they take it for granted to a certain extent

    at least until they become mothers themselves (for the girls)

    that’s only normal, i think

    • Hadassah Aber

      They learn when they have to go away for yeshiva and take care of their own laundry… also if we are ever Chas v’sholom unable to take care of it.

    • I guess it’s my wishful thinking;)

    • I don’t know, Rishe. I think it is the climate of the home and your family’s “cleaning culture” – if I can call it that – which will or will not promote appreciation. Sure,we take each other for granted to some extent in the family. But at least in my personal experience, there were things injected into the family “culture” which nurtured an ENORMOUS level of hakarat hatov all around. I guess I did not realize how much until I really saw it come through as the kids got a bit older. One thing was, enlisting a lot of kid participation. Laundry for example was a privilege and a responsibility for someone “mature.” – if the kid could sort and operate the machine alone and fold etc., they felt grown up. The resultant outcome of personal experience was their realization of the effort involved in laboring for others in the household. Hence, my work was definitely recognized and appreciated,in general. But besides, I tried to model appreciation for EVERYTHING. If I asked a child for help or even to do a chore which would be a given, I injected a bit of apologetic tone into my request, along with words to the effect of thanking them in advance, but SINCERELY. I was showing them I get it that they are busy at the time doing things they feel are important…This I learned to do from a hesped for Rebbetzin Kaplan, the talmida of Rebbetzin Scheneirer zich”L – another story for another post.
      But when my kids will on occasion toast me a lechaim on Shabbos in appreciation of all I do as their mom, or in another case years ago, have a secret meeting in which they decided I should fire my cleaning lady to afford other things, with the full assurance that they would shoulder even the bathroom cleaning (and they did!)- that shows me that appreciation can certainly be fostered within the family. Of course they do realize everything more starkly when they become parents – no debate! But they also turn out to be very appreciated spouses!

  3. it’s also a bracha to see the wonderful sweet neighbors the one above has blessed us with! we should only share good times with them.

    • Hadassah Aber

      We don’t realize how wonderful our neighbors can be… and I love the comment below about the tools. It is like the woman who appreciates having dirty dishes which meant her family had enough food to eat. Dirty laundry means we have enough clothes to wear and change, and active bodies to move and get dirty!

  4. I recently learned a technique from a friend – thanking haShem (aloud) for the tools you use. This friend shared how much she had hated/resented sweeping her floors – which she does several times a day. After being taught this technique she said “Thank you haShem for this broom….”and then had an amazing insight. She said “Wow, imagine what my floors would look like if I didn’t have this broom?!?” How would I possibly keep my floors even reasonably clean if I didn’t have this broom? Would I have to pick up shmutz by hand? Would I have to flood my floors with water several times a day? It changed her perspective, and also mine! Enjoy your new washing machine and your fresh clean laundry…because without them, we’d be hand washing clothes or wearing them dirty!

  5. I loved this story, Chana Jenny. To receive with joy. May it always and only be for smachot!

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