I’m a scorekeeper. I know precisely how many times I have scrubbed, washed, rinsed and dried each pot, pan and over sized item too big for the dishwasher. I can also tell you how many times my husband has. I get angry about it, passive aggressively, of course, but still I’m mad. The dishes are constant. I feed little people all day which turns into a big mess. There are times when I shove aside dinner plates on the table from last night’s dinner to make room for breakfast bowls of cereal. We are messy people and I am overwhelmed by the task of taking care of it all.
Sometimes, when I want to feel really super valuable and needed, I just stop. I stop doing the dishes to see if anyone else will pitch in, take a hint, smell a terrible odor and wash something. What usually happens is I find out how much everyone depends on me for clean dishes and food preparation. For a moment I sigh and think, Wow Amy, you sure are important and have a big job to do and then I slap my inner voice and yell, No! I don’t want this job, somebody please come and help me, I can’t do it all on my own! And what I actually say out loud so family members can hear is, “Do I look like the maid? I don’t want to clean up after everybody” and hope they pick up on my subtle hints.
I wonder if my husband keeps score. He could easily keep a flattering scorecard. He has spent many hours filing taxes so I can spend the refund, debugging my computer from viruses I stupidly acquired, replacing batteries for the children’s annoying, yet beloved toys, reprogramming clocks after a time change or power outage, replacing light bulbs, unclogging drains, shoveling snow, scraping ice and pulling trash to the curb. There are many things he willingly and without prompting takes upon himself. I don’t have a honey-do list, it’s more of an, ahh-my-honey-did-that list.
So why do I get so bent out of shape over dishes?
Because they are gross, that’s why.
And because it makes me feel like I am responsible for everything dinner related from the planning, shopping, prep, putting leftovers away and cleaning the dishes and kitchen. Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Trying to do clean up at the end of the day is big on my to-not-do list.
Recently I have been trying to up my dinner game because if I make taco soup and chicken broccoli casserole one more time I will die from starvation. Surprisingly, I have had a lot of fun trying new recipes my kids might eat. My palette is refreshed and I am excited about dinnertime. After a delicious and satisfying meal, I feel like I’m done. Like, okay whose turn is it now?
It’s easy for me to begrudge all the cleaning I do on my own, but as I watch him lace up his boots in the darkness of pre-dawn light I know he isn’t keeping score. He doesn’t remember how many times he rolls out of bed before I do. He does it because he wants to take care of his family. I tell him, “thank you for working so hard for us” and he shrugs it off simply saying, “I don’t love the work, but I am glad I can take care of my family.”
In a heartbeat, all those dirty dishes don’t matter anymore because like him, I don’t love the work but I am glad I can take care of my family.