as the laundry spins.

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How many do we have for tomorrow? Do we have enough velcro? Will the daycare ladies be mad if we have to send snaps? If I start the load now, can Mike put it in the dryer before he goes to bed?

This is what it’s like inside the head of a working mom who uses cloth diapers. For two and a half years, the rhythm of our week was partially shaped by laundry. Our diapers had to be washed every other day, and I was constantly calculating when I would next have to run them, adjusting weekend laundry to minimize during-the-week washings. We loved our cloth diapers and they were a great choice for our family, but there were times when that choice felt like a lot of work.

And then, kind of suddenly, it was over. After six months of no interest whatsoever, Atticus asked to use the bathroom at his friend’s house when we were there on a playdate. Okay, to be honest, he wanted to use their bidet, and we told him no. But after the bidet incident, he never looked back. Now he wants underwear with Mater and Nemo. Take my money, Disney! You win!

We try to celebrate Atticus’s milestones, but they come so fast that it’s hard to mark them all. This summer, on top of potty training, he moved to a big bed and gave up his pacifier. I am not that mom who gushes about cloth diapers–although, seriously, his butt was so cute in them–and I am not going to lie and say that I miss the laundry. We handed our diapers off to our neighbor who had twins this spring, and that was a good feeling. But it has left a space in my calendar, a clear indication that something has changed. For me, laundry begets laundry. Doing one load leads to more clean clothes. Last week I went to put some clothes in the hamper and realized it was overflowing, a sure sign that I am out of my routine. Without stinky diapers to force me into the laundry room, I am afraid that unassuming pile will turn into a mountain. Will I lose my laundry discipline? Will we ever wear clean clothes again?

I hear in those questions an echo of what I have been asking myself since the beginning of this parenting thing: Am I going to lose myself? The things I do have changed, and my values have shifted. Instead of living in loss, we continue finding new ways to learn and grow together. And we carry our old selves with us like rocks in our pockets, never too far away when we need them.

Speaking of pockets, I have already realized that my new laundry routine is going to include a lot of pocket checking, but I won’t burden you with that story. (And surely those impossibly big clothes and sheets don’t belong to my baby.)

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