A soldier’s laundry
OpinionGuest columnist

A soldier’s laundry

Michal Berman asks "How do we cope?"

Michal Berman wishes dirty IDF uniforms for other families. Our Kids. (Photo by it is elisa, courtesy of flickr.com)
Michal Berman wishes dirty IDF uniforms for other families. Our Kids. (Photo by it is elisa, courtesy of flickr.com)

After hearing the idea from a mother of six a number of years ago, I decided that I too would have my kids start doing their own laundry. I wasn’t great at delegating household tasks, and in this I saw a quick win — less work for me, and a good opportunity for my kids to learn some responsibility.

When my son entered the army, I made a new rule. Any soldier in our house gets his or her laundry done, by me, “for free.”

After he was discharged, the dirty clothes returned to his own laundry basket, and he was on his own.

In a shift I think of as “The COVID Effect,” we are now experiencing something we never thought possible, if we thought about it at all. We are in a war we didn’t anticipate. We thought we were safer than that. We thought we had it covered.

Moving past the initial shock, we as a country, as a nation, are navigating our way through a time of great pain and suffering. No one has escaped this, it’s just a matter of degree.

The fortunate ones among us are personally unscathed, but nevertheless deeply scarred.

The horrors perpetrated against us on Oct. 7. The ongoing suffering of our hostages. The unthinkable burden of the hostage families. The wounded. The dead.

How do we cope?

We follow the news. We take breaks from following the news. We feel guilty about taking that break when others are dealing with so much more, so we continue. We work. We volunteer. We attend funerals. We comfort the mourners. We try to maintain a routine. We feel guilty about maintaining our routine. We sleep. We don’t sleep.

We do our soldiers’ laundry.

My son has once again donned his uniform to protect our people and defend our home. And when he’s on leave, I once again do his laundry. Smoothing every freshly washed shirt, folding each clean pair of pants, pairing the safely sanitized socks. It all feels like a holy act. A blessing. And an honor.

We think, he’s home now. Soon he’ll be going back. But he’s home now, and we have the privilege of doing his laundry.

Other mothers no longer need to fold their sons’ uniforms. Because their sons no longer need their uniforms.

We are fighting for survival. But the cost is so great. We are deeply proud and appreciative of our soldiers, but they, our children, are dying. Every day they are dying. And they are killing. We wish they didn’t have to. We wish there was another way.

We pray for a time when this is over. When we are all safe. When all people everywhere are safe. When all of mankind matures enough to “use their words.” When we can put down our guns and tools of terror.

For now, I am wishing others heaps of dirty laundry. PJC

Michal Berman, a full-time technical writer, has made Israel her home since 1989. This article first appeared on The Times of Israel.

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