I’m a total slacker when it comes to washing dishes. I don’t mind doing them, but I never think it’s worth my time to wash one fork, one plate, or one cup. Then, as soon as I turn my back, my sink erupts into Mount Saint Dishuvius, and I can’t even get *to* my sink to wash the dirty dishes.
At the same time, sometimes when I wash up the dishes I think, “I wish I could wash all these and keep going.” You know, pre-wash dishes so I could accumulate a clean debt that would be paid back later. I’ll wash extra dishes today to skip them tomorrow.
Well, we can skip washing dishes tomorrow, but we’ll pay the price eventually.
As I was scrubbing crust off my bread loaf pans this morning (sigh, an overnight soaking hadn’t been enough), I had one of those epiphanies that seem brilliant or at least justifying of the menial work that produced it.
All the worries going on, and there seems to be more than a fair share going around these days, are not going to change by worrying. We can’t anticipate and pre-wash our worry dishes today. We can, however, make sure we are prepared by stocking dish soap, clean dish cloths, dish towels, and keeping our sink and drainer clean.
Sometimes the drudgery of one-foot-forward-at-a-time seems interminable, but what is our other option?
I love to put my phone on speaker mode, call up a friend, and chat while scrubbing. Sometimes dishwashing becomes the informal community center, with jokes and laughter flying back and forth along with the soap suds. Dish towels get snapped, perhaps a wooden spoon or two gets used in an unorthodox way (and has to be re-washed), and enjoy the fellowship of a good meal.
Almost all of my adult friendships have formed in a kitchen. Often, the test of compatibility has been trying to cook together. For my friends who don’t cook, will they wash up, leave me in peace, and/or ooh and ahh over the meal? For my friends who do cook, is there a kitchen big enough for two chefs? Sometimes there isn’t. Even my bossiest cook friends, however, are willing to take turns being bossy. In my kitchen, my rules go. In my friends’ kitchen, they’re the boss. Or else whoever knows the recipe better gets to be the boss.
My mom never liked to cook. She did it, but she followed measurements exactly and hated any deviation. (If you hadn’t noticed from my “recipes” here, I believe in deviation. Deviant deviation!) So I didn’t learn proper cooking (and by “proper,” I mean using real, fresh ingredients instead of dumping together various cans of processed vegetables and soups) until I left home. I didn’t even know garlic came in bulbs and cloves (instead of a sprinkle can of powder).
Even as I grumbled scrubbing the stubborn loaf pans today (and finally set them to soak a second time), I smiled thinking of the quilting grannies who enjoyed the bread yesterday (one loaf of sesame, the other onion) and asked for extra slices to share with husbands and family.
I came home with less than a quarter of one loaf, and I could have grinned from ear to ear. Nothing is sadder than stale baked goods that have to be thrown away. I’ll never forget baking someone a birthday cake (she of the perpetual diet), only for it to get thrown away a week after the obligatory tasting. Providing food is providing love, after all.
For me, annoying endless chore as it might be, washing dishes reminds me that I am part of a community. It reminds me of all the years of friendships formed around dirtying and cleaning dishes, and it reminds me how lucky I’ve been.
I’ll have to wash the blasted dishes again tomorrow, but I’ll smile while doing it.
How about you? How do you feel about washing dishes?