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Hand-Washing Dishes Does the Mind Good

When I first started hand-washing dishes, I admit I did it because I didn’t feel like unloading the dishwasher. I know. Lazy. Lazy. Lazy.

But then I realized I enjoyed washing dishes by hand. Even when I’d end up throwing them into the dishwasher, I would basically have them already washed so the dishwasher kind of turned into an extra-hot rinse agent.

Warm water soothes. It relaxes me. The suds feel good on my hands.

And sometimes I like to think I'm all sexy doing dishes like Madonna.

And sometimes I like to think I’m all sexy doing dishes like Madonna.

But That’s Just The Turd I Tell People

But really that’s just bullshit. Okay, it may have started out that way but honestly washing dishes has turned into a way that affords me the luxury of not having to take more anti-anxiety meds than I already do.

There. I said it. Sometimes you people (not you, of course, just anyone) grate on my last nerve something fierce and I need an outlet and somehow I think people would think I was a little off if I sat down and started making macaroni art after dinner. Especially considering I haven’t had a toddler in about eight years. 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

My little outlet is especially necessary when we have company visiting from out of town. Excusing myself to wash the dishes turned into a no-brainer when my former mother-in-law came to visit.

A nice enough lady and I sure like her more now than when her son and I were married, but I just couldn’t take the 24-hour-a-day chatter that would come with her on visits.

When she would tell me about something she made for dinner she would literally start by telling me the recipe. As in, “Well, you take a ¼ cup of baking soda and ten ounces of Gouda cheese …” not really those ingredients but they may as well have been because all I heard was blah, blah, blah, and then I had the sudden urge to whip up something for us to eat JUST so I’d have dishes to do. That was like 15 years ago and I’ve never stopped.

Now I will say that when my mother and sister come visit, they always swoop in to help out (which is totally cool) and I’ll come back into the kitchen to find the dishwasher running and no dirty dishes in the sink. That’s okay though – I like when they do that because it’s very thoughtful (and I’m not just saying that because I know they’ll probably read this lol).

Obviously the Xanax Doesn’t Always Cut It

It'll be okay. You'll get out of that coffee cup soon. I swear.

It’ll be okay. You’ll get out of that coffee cup soon. I swear.

So don’t get me wrong though. I don’t ONLY do the dishes unless I’m pissed or all worked up about something. Hardly. I’m typically the only one who does the dishes so sometimes I’m only doing them just to get them done. And yes, I do them by hand because I do actually find it very relaxing.

I let my mind race. I let it slow down. I drift off into daydreams. I reenact situations and conversations with other people in my mind. I talk to myself. And I calm down.

I have two kids. A 15-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son – they’re awesome but sometimes they have a way about them like most kids do. I have a husband who works 2,000 miles away about one-third of each year. And his 80-year-old father lives with us and I take care of him.

Some days my mind needs a lot of calming down. And seriously, there is only so much medication my doctor can prescribe and it hasn’t become socially acceptable to start with the cocktails at 10 a.m. unless you’re on vacation or a really old, hat-wearing rich lady from New England.

In the End It’s Just Another Reason to Shop

So I wash dishes. I don’t have a dish rack drying thingy. I buy fancy dishtowels. I walk into William Sonoma or Anthropologie and browse the dishtowels like a meth addict strolls through CVS looking around for the Sudafed.

I look and stroll. I touch and stroke to find just the right absorption ratio. I just made that up – I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing but maybe I’ll check out what the pad people over at the sanitary napkin plant have to say on the subject, because I’m sure they’ve figured out absorption ratios.

Anyway … I pick them up and smell the towel (not the napkin – don’t be gross, we’re back to talking about dishtowels). I pick out the most perfect, luxurious pieces of fabric I can find. Basically, I can find any damn reason at all to shop and spend money (that’s my husband’s voice working it’s way into my head).

Anthropologie calls these things tea towels. Yeah, I know that's what they are called in highfalutin places but I think it just adds another reason for them to charge $28 for a dishtowel. Bingo! And I'm the sucker who does it!

Anthropologie calls these things tea towels. Yeah, I know that’s what they’re called in highfalutin places but I think it just adds another reason for them to charge $28 for a dishtowel. Bingo! And I’m the sucker who does it!

Meanwhile, Back at the Sink

I love having my hands in hot water. I don’t like hot showers unless I’m freezing cold but hot water on my hands is just so lovely. It reminds me of having a paraffin treatment at my favorite spa, only the spa is a lot more on the lovely side for sure!

One thing I can’t stand though is when the rest of the family becomes lazy about the dishes and just makes that assumption that since Mom likes to wash dishes so much they shouldn’t make any attempt to offer to do the dishes themselves. I understand they are busy with school work and lacrosse and baseball practice and texting their peeps and staring off into space, watching tv or just doing absolutely fucking nothing but SHEESH!! Why not offer every once in awhile just to do your part?

Yep, those are actually in my sink as I type! Mmmm. Warmed milk. Ick.

Yep, those are actually in my sink as I type! Mmmm. Warmed milk. Ick.

At the very least, rinse off your dishes when you haphazardly fling them into the sink. Nothing pisses me off more (in the dish-doing realm anyway) than someone who can’t figure out how to at least throw some water on whatever they’re putting in the sink so that it’s not disgusting when I get to it. I mean come on. How hard is it to be polite enough to do that? I do the dishes every day but it might be 12 hours after the first bowl hits the sink in the morning.

I don’t want to have to get out a jackhammer to get the half-eaten cereal (and the warmed-over milk remnants that go with it), orange juice pulp or sprinkles of Parmesan cheese left on your plate.

Don’t Make the Mother Mad

It’s just not right. Nobody wants to do that. I’m supposed to be chilling in my special dishwashing zone where the anxiety gets washed away with warm water, suds and my special towels.

It's Mommy's quiet time. Shhh. Go away. Let me relax.

It’s Mommy’s quiet time. Shhh. Go away. Let me relax.

If I end up not getting the therapeutic value from hand-washing dishes, guess what? I won’t do them anymore but will delegate the chore to one of you and I would guess that responsibility would go to whoever leaves the biggest mess of Nutella, lemon wedges and pasta in my pretty porcelain sink. And … I won’t let you use my fancy towels.

So help me keep my sanity and let me have my alone time at the sink. Please.

Judith

 

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