Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Doing the Dishes

Over the last several years, doing the dishes after dinner has become a welcome part of my day. It wasn't always this way. This task is called a chore for a reason: it's a routine task that is generally unappealing. Put it this way: after dinner, I would definitely prefer to go right to the couch to start a movie. So while I don't look forward to doing the dishes, I've grown to welcome its routine.

The phrase "doing the dishes" encompasses all the procedures to shut down the kitchen. That means wiping down the stove top and counters, storing leftovers, and putting away pots and pans and other kitchen implements after they've been hand washed. I spend time toweling things down when necessary. I admit all this is easier with our empty nest.

Growing up, my family did not have a dishwasher. I was raised to hand wash everything. My two brothers and I took turns weekly, I think, doing this chore. I applied to be a dishwasher at a restaurant near our house, but when they found out I wasn't 18, they backed out. After I got married, I decided that since I couldn't contribute making meals, my contribution would be the dishes. 

Over the past several years I have refined my dish washing techniques, but there is one essential element: near-constant running water when rinsing. My mother chides me on how much water I'm using. I've learned to be more frugal, but I like a lot of water. I run my fingers over what I'm washing, to be sure all the grit is gone.

Of late, doing the dishes has become calming for me. I find myself doing it deliberately. I go carefully each step of the way. Sometimes, when the oven was used for dinner, I'll finish by holding the wet dish towel over the partially open oven door so that it gets slightly drier. 

I think my change in attitude comes from the chore's finite duration and my sense of accomplishment when I'm done. It's 20 to 30 minutes, though sometimes longer. The result is a kitchen ready to go for tomorrow. When I turn out the light, whatever relaxation happens afterward feels earned.