The Dryer Broke and Other Dilemmas

 We started the day normally yesterday.  At the breakfast table I gave the kids the rundown of what our simple day was to look like:

Personal Scripture study for big kids while Mom tidies the kitchen and takes care of littles
Big kid read aloud time--littles are welcome, too
Math for everyone
Dance practice
Soccer pictures/game
Dinner/Family Scripture Study and Prayer
Evening routine and bed

We made it through personal scripture study and a pleasant read aloud session with Freckles.  When the kids were dismissed to work on math I was nursing Baby L.  I had to enforce some consequences for E15 for not doing her morning chores, and she went off to work on those.  S12 came to me with math questions.  Just as I started to help her with that E15 dropped the bombshell that changed the whole day,  "Mom, because there's too much stuff on top of the dryer, a box of band aids fell into the lint trap when I was trying to clean it, and I can't get them out."

Her attitude was bad.

Really bad.

And now I had a dryer that needed attention because not getting laundry done in this household is a big problem, and my exhausted husband had just gone to bed in preparation for another night at work.  He wouldn't have time to work on the dryer for a few days.  I couldn't face denying him the few hours of sleep he needed just so I could get laundry done.  I determined to solve the problem myself.

I tried to get E15 to help me, but she was unpleasant, and when she disappeared I did not call her back.

I felt unpleasant, too.  I bit my tongue--trying to remember that I was the grown-up in this situation and that kids are more important than dryers.

I managed to get a lot of lint out of the trap with the wire brush I used to dig around in it, but I only managed to shove the band aid box deeper into the recesses of the dryer.

I found a YouTube video that helped me disassemble the dryer.  M13 helped me for a little while, but then it was time to leave for dance, so I sent her to the kitchen to pack some lunch to eat in the van.  I got the dryer apart but found out that there's no access to the vent from the front of the dryer/behind the drum; I would have to go in through the back panel.

At this point we were late for dance, and my dryer was in pieces.

I woke my husband to tell him what was going on so he wouldn't be startled when he got up for work, and we left.

I was going to try to run some errands, including a bit of grocery shopping, while the kids were at practice, but they forgot to put the cooler in the van after I asked them to get it from the garage, and I didn't think to check until we were 2 miles from home.  It's too warm to leave groceries in the van without a cooler, so I skipped shopping.

We were also running too far behind for me to return the overdue library books that I've been trying to return for 3 days.  I just shoved the bag of books in the van and hoped to find another chance another time.

Soccer pictures were cancelled so I had an extra few minutes when we got home to work on removing the back panel of the dryer.  It was hard.  Much harder than I thought, and I cut my hands trying to get the box of band aids out of the vent, but I did it.

Then my sweet, sweet, sacrificing husband got up early (without me asking) and helped me put the dryer back together again--which was especially good because even with his help I was still 15 minutes late getting the girls to soccer.

I worked hard to be thankful throughout the day.

Thankful for . . .
--YouTube videos
--good tools
--the best husband
--the opportunity to clean the dryer thoroughly
--getting the dryer working again
--not scolding or lecturing my daughter
--M13's and J11's help
and so forth and so on.

But underneath my efforts is a very real question: would my children be better off in school where their days would be less interrupted by problems like this?

I know that academics are not the end-all be-all of life.  I know that learning to deal with home and family are good, valuable lessons.  I see my kids learning true life lessons often . . .

but don't kids who go to school learn true life lessons AND get structured, pleasant time to work on academics?

H5 and I3 wanted to watch what Mommy and Daddy were doing in the laundry room.  They were curious about the tools and what the inside of the dryer looked like.  Wouldn't it have been delightful for me to have included them in my work?

But the laundry room could barely hold the disassembled dryer and me.  I had screws and tools and dryer parts to track while I did a job I was sorely uncomfortable doing, and I had little ability to patiently guide their small hands.  I was trying to patiently guide myself!

I offered for them to stand on the toilet (the laundry room is also a half-bath) to see what they could see, but they couldn't see much, and what they wanted was to be right in the middle of everything.  So the learning experience was mine alone.

It was a great experience for me!
*Practice patience
*Remember what's important
*Step outside my comfort zone
*Think of my husband first
*Be flexible

But what about the children's experience?

I don't think I would mind so much if it were one isolated day, but this day coming hard on the heels of 3 months of irregular schooling has left me really questioning my abilities to reasonably facilitate their educations.

And S12 said wistfully as we drove past a public school, "I'll bet kids in school have a lot of fun.  I think I would really like going to school each day."

I'm trying to imagine 10 years from now . . . Will this moment be just that?  A moment?  A blip in the generally good experience of raising my family and educating my children at home?

Or will it be the beginning of a turning point?

I hope it's just a blip.


  1. Oh, hon, I hear you! A few things come to mind, none of which may help but I'll share anyway.
    First, hold on to the fact that NONE of your day to day, oft interrupted, unplannable life is a surprise to God. None of it.
    Second, you're a good mom and that won't change no matter where they get their schooling.
    Third, school choices are not permanent. You can change as needed, year by year, child by child.
    Fourth, think outside the box. An example, we homeschool year round in some form because it spreads out the workload and short days don't make as much of an impact when you're school year runs most of 365 days a year. Just one outside the box idea, I know there are tons more.
    Last, would you consider eliminating some (most?) of the many outside activities you have to run kids to and from? I know, some people really like tons of activities. I get that. But taking a break for a season (or a year!) could give you the breathing room you need as a family to tackle learning AND unexpected things in a week with plenty of wiggle room in your week for relaxed family life.

    ((HUGS)) You are always in my prayers! I love that you are open and honest when you blog because that is what is real - that life isn't all butterflies and roses, but that there is a nice dose of them alongside the chaos.

    PS> I'm glad you got the dryer fixed! Living without laundry is so stressful.

    1. Your advice is good. Our 3-4 outside commitments per week are intentional and carefully planned ones. They all (except for church youth activities) end this month. I have a bunch of extroverts on my hands, and though I'd prefer to dump the outside activities, they are essential to the happiness of my kids. We've already talked about schooling through the summer--in order to keep progressing and keep from being overwhelmed with the sense of trying to catch up. But I still have a tendency to get overwhelmed nonetheless.

      I appreciate your experience, wisdom, encouragement, and sound advice! I've got you in my prayers as well!! :)

  2. You are an amazing woman, and you're doing an amazing job. This is just one super-hard year for you all, but I am consistently amazed by what you manage to do despite that. Whenever I come away from reading your blog, my main thought is, "I will NEVER attain that level of awesomeness." You really are doing good things with your beautiful family.

    On another point, I seem to remember that I was distinctly unpleasant from around age 15 to perhaps 19 or so. I don't know that I would have come away from your teen-encounter as gracefully as you did, because teens can be so hard! I will remember your good example in the years to come.

    Diana :)

    1. I don't think I was very pleasant at 15 either. :) I'm trying to remember that as I live with and try to guide my own daughters along.

      And you're awfully awesome, yourself. :) Thanks for the encouraging words!

  3. What a perfectly horrible situation. UTube is amazing, but big home repairs are exhausting. You get the prize for getting the dryer fixed. You also get the prize for dealing with teen tude. On the flip side, I seem to have a teen that can pug any toliet. I have no idea how de does it. He plugs his, mine, and his brothers. It is totally unintentional, but disgusting anyway. So, maybe I'm saying at least it wasn't poop. Love you.

  4. Yes, at least it wasn't poop. :) We've got enough of that going on anyway. Now that a few days have passed, it doesn't feel so horrible. It helped to get it out in print and receive sweet words of encouragement from other wonderful mothers--like you. Love you, too.


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