“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
It was 6:30am and I was sitting at my in-laws kitchen table about to enjoy my first cup of coffee and write my morning pages. Joey sauntered in and put her me her underwear in front of me.
“Mom, can you figure out how to fold these so they stay folded, you know, like how Cindy does it?”
The children greet me with a question every morning: What are we doing today? Have you seen my 4B pencil? Do we have cake flour? How do I do a rib stitch again? What happens when we die? Do we have any forest green embroidery thread? Where’s the Stoic book?
I thought I had been asked every possible question by five children over two decades. But this was a first.
She knew she caught me off guard so she shared more info and slowed her speech.
“I’m packing now. I want my underwear to stay folded. When Cindy folds our laundry, she does this cool thing with the underwear and makes it like a dumpling. Do you remember how she does it?”
In Costa Rica, we don’t have a washer and dryer yet so we take our laundry to a service and her name is Cindy. There is an unexplainable joy that I feel with my washed laundry already folded.
“I am not sure. Let me try.”
We cleared a space on the table to lay the underwear and we took turns folding. I even tried to turn it into an airplane. I thought about waking Q – our origami guru. A few years ago, Q had this obsession with origami. He can still make a paper crane, a ninja star, and small gift box on demand.
After a few minutes of crumpled panties, I decided to bite the bullet and google. I am always scared to use the wrong set of words in the search bar that could yield things I can’t unsee. I tried “how to fold underwear.” I braced myself for what could come up but it was only a slew of OCD blogs from people that spent their lives trying to share their passion of organization, changing one closet at a time. After multiple Marie Kondo references, we finally found a Wikihow step-by-step process.
She tried to follow the photos but it fell a part. I made sure the folds were crisp. At this point, I had flashbacks of sonobe balls and tears (my own) because my folds weren’t crisp enough and both the origami geometry and the child in front of me were about to fall apart. This same child in front of me that looks in awe about my seriousness of folding her underwear is not falling apart but simply curious.
She has changed. I have watched her grow and learn to let go of right angles and crisp folds. That day she examined the fold with interest instead of desperation.
It worked! It looked like a little egg roll, cute and compact. There was no way it would unfold.
I held it up to her and she said with glee and supreme satisfaction, “Thanks Mama!”
Before she took it, I unfolded it all.
She looked at me confused. I tossed her the underwear and said,
“Now figure it out.”
She grabbed her underwear, rolled her eyes, gave me the tiniest of grateful smiles, and headed to her room to pack.