Kitchen Confessions & Dirty Dishes
While I blog this post, the dishwasher sits full of clean dishes just waiting to be unloaded. Unloading the dishwasher is not one of my favorite tasks. I will even go so far as to wash a few dirty dishes by hand in order to avoid unloading the dishwasher. Ridiculous, I know. And now that the children have grown and moved out, it’s either going to be me or my husband. (Heads or tails, anyone?) Alas, tomorrow is a new day.
My mom never owned a dishwasher. She WAS the dishwasher. And when my sisters and I were old enough, we became dishwashers as well. Not by choice, mind you, but because it was an expectation … a chore. Chore is defined as “a small job that is done regularly; a dull, unpleasant, or a difficult job or experience.” Hence washing dishes.
I do not remember how old we were when we began our kitchen chores with mom but I do remember our duties included setting the table, clearing the table, and doing the dishes. We would take turns with kitchen duties thus having one-on-one time with mom. My sisters would quickly escape the dinner table and would avoid coming close to the kitchen until the tea towel was hung and the dishes put away for fear of getting dragged into kitchen duty on a night that was not her turn. I miss those days.
I would watch the sunset from our west-facing kitchen window while hands would be deep in a sink full of sudsy water. Conversations would undoubtedly involve the latest teen gossip or spelling test review. Perhaps we talked about the recent school bus happenings or Christmas/birthday wishes and wants. I don't really remember the topics of discussion but just as I am sure we had many talks, there were certainly times when no talking was to be had - each of us quiet in our own thoughts and yet together side by side. And I know there were plenty of moments of laughter as my mom would frantically try to keep up with the dishes that were being piled up in the drainer. “Slow down!” she would say but that just caused me to go faster. “Staci Jo!” she would laugh, “Slow down!” And just as soon as we started, we finished. Tea towels would be hung to dry, counter tops wiped spotless, and dishes tucked away for the evening. She always ended chore time with the words ... "thank you for your help, honey." With just the glow of a small lamp, the kitchen was closed for the day. Chores done. Check. I would have two nights “off” before my turn rolled around again. Two nights of freedom from the “dull, unpleasant experience”. I miss those days.
Eventually, as in all families, we grew up and moved away. Kitchen duty memories became much like the clean dishes behind the cabinet doors. We married and moved into homes of our own … this time with modernized dishwashers that freed us from the dull, unpleasant job of cleaning dishes by hand. Occasional weekend visits still included kitchen duty, however. The older I got, the less I saw kitchen duty as a chore. Instead it became a cherished time of adult conversation and laughter, (“Slow down, Staci Jo!”) and always followed by "Thank you for your help, honey." I miss those days.
This year my sweet mother will be 85 years young. She lives in a care facility where her kitchen duty days are behind her. Someone else washes her dishes, undoubtedly in a commercially sized dishwasher. She is free of that “chore” however my mom never once complained about doing dishes. In fact, she would often say how much she enjoyed it. I'm sure she would love to have the opportunity to once again stand and soak her hands in the sudsy, warm water and what I would give to be able to stand beside her in quiet conversation and laughter. What I once considered a dull, unpleasant chore I now see as a precious moment of one-on-one time with my mom. Thank you for the moments and memories, mom! I miss those days.
Oh … and the dish detergent my mom would use? Joy. And it was.
10/7/2022 03:19:25 am
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Staci J. Allen has more than 15 years of experience teaching and working with preschoolers. She currently serves as the Director of Caring Ministries at The Summit Church. Staci and her husband Rick live in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and enjoy spending time with their adult children and grandchildren.