Yesterday I was pulling a load of Mr. W's tiny clothes from the dryer and felt a rush of pure happiness. Over laundry, which normally would be weird. But it wasn't.
Mr. W spent 10 weeks in the NICU. Many of those weeks (OK, most of them) were filled with uncertainty. A few of the worst weeks, it was a real possibility he wouldn't make it. We didn't know if we would ever get to bring him home to live with us.
Friends threw us baby showers during that time - it was after he was born of course, because he was so early. After every one I would come home, remove the tags from all of the cute little clothes, wash them in the special baby detergent, dry them, and fold them carefully into neat, clean little stacks. It was one of the few things I could do for him at a time when just holding him was dangerous to his health. It was one small thing I could control - having his clothes perfect and waiting.
I would look at those little stacks, carry them into his room and place them just-so in his dresser, thinking about our house being ready for a baby when no baby lived there. I wondered every single time whether he'd ever come home and wear the clothes. Whether I was preparing for a day that wouldn't come.
And then it did. He came home, he wore the clothes, spit up on them, peed on them, even grew out of them.
These days his clothes aren't folded quite as neatly. The little stacks aren't as precise. Housework is still the same chore it's always been. But the laundry makes me joyful sometimes, and the messy jumble of clothes in his dresser drawer reminds me I get to lavish my time instead on a squirmy baby with a milky smile.