As the only girl in a family of 4 kids, it was normally expected that I help with the dishes and overall after-dinner cleanup. I hated it. I hated putting the food away, clearing the table, and drying the dishes. I didn't mind actually washing--that was easy. Drying and putting away stunk. My Mother was SO particular about everything too. "No, no, not Tupperware for the spaghetti sauce. Use a glass container." My Mother always bragged to guests, "I love to do the dishes." I couldn't imagine who could TRUTHFULLY claim such a thing.
Two of my brothers are significantly younger than me. As the dinner would wind down my Mother would ask each night (knowing my response already), "do you want to help me with the dishes or watch the boys?" That was too easy--I'd shag fly balls any day out in the yard before cleaning up the kitchen.
When I was the Mother of one child, evenings were fairly easy for me. My husband had evening duty, give Luc a bath if he needed one (or I mentioned the smell was getting bad), read him stories, and put him to bed. Now that I have 2 boys, nighttime is very different. Daytime is reserved for caring for my youngest, working if he actually decides to take a 30-minute power-nap, laundry, housework, cooking, and many other incredibly exciting things. Nighttime means that my husband and I tag-team the kids and try and get them fed, clean, dressed, and in bed. I rarely have a moment to myself. On the rare time that Max sleeps around the same time that my husband reads to Luc, I find myself drawn to the kitchen.
I don't know why I go there, maybe because it's the furthest room in the house from the kids. At first glance it's depressing; dishes with dried-on food bits are strewn all over. I'm luckier than my Mom because I have a dishwasher, but it's usually full of clean dishes that have to get put away first. Once empty, I begin to rinse the dishes that have added up during the day, methodically sliding each plate into the rack. All while gazing out the window and watching the neighborhood closing up for the evening. A plate smeared with half-eaten strawberries reminds me of Max--he shoves them in as fast as he can expanding his already chubby cheeks. The drain has a few soggy bits of chicken nuggets and I wonder if Luc will ever eat anything other than nuggets or pizza for dinner.
Pressing the handle down on the faucet the water stops flowing. It's quiet.
After wiping down all the cabinets and countertops I sigh and realize I've completed a task without interruption. As a matter of fact, a room OUR house, is clean. This area will stay clean for hours, until the morning. No one will come in and put a dirty spoon on my counter. No one will drop raisins on the floor so we can step on them and squish them. No one will spill their yogurt drink.
My Mother knew I preferred to wash but she never let me--my formidable job was bringing the dishes to her, putting the food away, and drying whatever was in the rack. Playing with the boys was certainly preferred. Now I wonder if it was all just part of her sinister plan to get us out of the house and give her some time alone.
© 2004, Claudine M. Jalajas