Welp, another onesie bites the dust. Pumpkin is to blame this time. Thanks, daycare sensory activity!
And I close my eyes and take ten deep breaths.
Why does this drive me so nuts, this inevitable destruction of baby clothes? It’s basically a given. It matters so little in the grand scheme of things. She’s going to wear these clothes just a handful of times before she outgrows them. And secretly? Most of them we got for free anyway.
I really don’t want this to be the thing I get worked up and lose my temper over.
So what gives?
OK. When I spill something on myself or stain my own clothes (and I do, all the time) I can get frustrated with myself for being careless or sloppy, and I can work to remove the stain, dedicating however much extra effort I feel reflects the unique cost/value/importance/difficulty of that particular at-risk garment.
But with baby clothes, this is constant, Sisyphean. It’s everything, every day, all the time.
Look: if the baby is doing what she is supposed to be doing–using her hands and mouth to explore the world, developing fine motor skills, learning to feed herself–she should be getting junk all over her clothes daily.
If daycare is doing what they’re supposed to be doing–exposing her to creative and sensory activities appropriate to her level of development, taking her outside to the grass and the mud–she should be up to her elbows in junk every day.
If I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing–exposing her to lots of different kinds of fruits and veggies, green, red, purple, orange!–the food she’s squeezing through her fingers should be extra likely to stain.
So: all of this normal, healthy, good, productive, positive behavior inevitably and consistently results in ruined clothes that cannot be addressed in a normal laundry cycle.
To put it a different way, during the busy week I am so very tempted to do wrong, unproductive things–to give her boring, bland white foods; to refuse to let her try to feed herself–all in order to save the wasted time, effort, and frustration that I wind up burning on stupid gross crusty stained clothes.
That’s crazy, right? But looking at it this way makes it clear: this is a systems problem, a design problem. And that’s what drives me nuts.
There’s a gap between the good, healthy, productive normal activities of baby and baby caretaker life, and the normal and reasonable results produced by a standard washing machine with standard detergent. And let me tell you: finding time and energy and will to scrub tiny clothes with baking soda and a toothbrush over the bathroom sink is not the way I’m going to bridge it.
Seriously: spare me your stain removal tips. That is not what I am looking for here.
When dealing with baby laundry I get frustrated, not because the baby or the daycare or I did anything wrong. On the contrary: spills and stains are not an aberration. They are the norm, a sign that things are going right!
I get frustrated because the materials available to us–largely white/light/pastel/even bright solids; it’s shocking how hard it is to get around these basics for boy *or* girl clothes–are so ridiculously unfit for the purpose. And we’re supposed to bend our lives around keeping them clean?
It’s some batshit gaslightning conspiracy sexist nonsense that baby clothes are basically all light/white colors–and so (good) parents (moms?) are suddenly supposed to develop a deep interest in stain removal.*
No. Clothes should fit the purpose. Not the other way around.
My favorite thing the Fustible owns right now is a onesie from Powell Books in Portland. I love it because, well, it’s from Powell Books. And because it features an adorable sleeping dragon surrounded by mountains of books.
But mostly? I love it because it is fucking black. There aren’t enough black baby clothes if you ask me. I will be seeking them out from now on.
And that’s Tuesday, round these parts.
*I should note, for the record, that laundry in general is a shared duty in our house. But in some ways, that’s just it: we’ve got the routine covered. Stuff beyond that, though–inspections, spot treatments, identifying what didn’t really come out well in the wash and triaging what to do next–well, I’m the only one who’s going to obsess about that. And I don’t want to. Ergo, the existing, working laundry routine needs to get the job done.