November brings with it cooler weather, leaves of gold and the feeling of thanks in the air. It’s the perfect time to begin a practice of gratitude. You Know Neen is hosting the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Gratitude blog series, a place where the experience of gratitude will be explored and shared. I, along with several other contributors will be sharing our thoughts on all things gratitude.
Written by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara
My grandmother’s house had a little plaque above the sink. It read “Thank God For Dirty Dishes. They have a tale to tell. While others may go hungry. We’re eating very well.” I didn’t pay much attention to it as a kid, though I inadvertently read it a zillion times on visits. Yet it must have seeped into my subconscious, because it still pops into my head 40+ years later, whenever I’m faced with a sink full of dishes and feel the resentment rising. It’s easy to be grateful for my loving family, my home, and living in Chicago with it’s vibrant cultural scene. When it comes to drudge work, not so much.
In my younger days, I was all about feminist fairness and equity with my roommates and boyfriends and sometimes sinks full of dishes would fester for weeks out of sheer stubbornness and a battle of wills. Once I got married I was lucky enough to find a guy who truly does step up and do his fare share and sometimes more, without drama. For over a decade he took on the bulk of the dish washing and I took laundry duty for the family.
This year, however, I’ve had some allergy issues with laundry soap, dryer sheets and our damp basement. Although we switched to all dye/chemical free laundry stuff, the mold count is still a bit high in our flood prone basement and I had to swap jobs with him.
Though I’m thrilled to switch it up and dump the basement portion of laundry duty for our family of 4, I’ve found that I still hate doing dishes even more. Even with a dishwasher, I HATE doing dishes. My hands get all wrinkly and raisin like and if we’re busy (which is always) and I can’t get to them right away, they get stinky and disgusting fast.
With two teens in the house, the dishes pile up too. Those kids can EAT… early and often! It’s like the myth of Sisyphus where the poor guys is doomed to roll a boulder up a hill every day and every night it rolls back down again and he has to do it all over again. I have a hard time being grateful for things that require a lot of hard work and just have to be redone again the very next day.
I especially detest Rice Krispies that cement themselves to the bowl, hand washable travel mugs with tough to reach coffee and cream rings in the bottom, and finding non food items chucked in the sink. I’m also not big on making the rounds and endlessly picking up other people’s cups, bowls, cutlery, and plates from all over the living room, dining room and even our bedroom (a declared no eating zone) where my daughter loves to do her homework in our king sized bed while covertly snacking, drinking and spilling stuff.
I have a single mom friend with two kids who gave away all of her extra dishes and kept just one place setting for each family member and started having them each wash and put away their own, like little monks with their begging bowls. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted. Sometimes less is more. Then I look at the mugs that have sentimental value and the travel cups that keep things hot or iced so well. I look at our funky, fun artisan made plates and a host of water bottles the kids have acquired from beloved camps and gymnastics meets. As I wash the glass skull shot glasses I gave my husband for our 16th anniversary I reminisce about the 21 years we’ve spent together and all the glasses and plates we’ve accidentally broken, the millions of meals we’ve shared, and the two great kids we’re raising together. And I realize that deep down I am thankful for dirty dishes.
Bonnie is a writer-photographer-videographer-potter-painter-blogger-actress-animal wrangler-general creatrix and Mama to two amazing kiddos.
Are you ready to start your 30 Days of Gratitude?