Why I Have Come to Love Dirty Dishes

I’ve begun hand-washing dishes recently.  I didn’t start this task out of desire, but out of necessity.  Our dishwasher sucks.  Seriously.  Not only is it tinier than tiny {one meal’s worth of dishes and it’s full}, but it stinks inside.  There’s an odor that I can’t figure out how to get rid of.  And the dishes don’t ever seem completely clean, so until we can afford a new one, I’ve decided to hand wash.

I never imagined how therapeutic it would be.  After enjoying a meal together as a family at the dining room table, my husband and I clear the table.  He begins packing up the leftovers and making lunches, scraping bits of food into the trash, then letting our own personal garbage disposals {the dogs} lick them clean.  Well, mostly clean anyway.  I get the water nice and hot and soapy and start washing as he hands them to me.
I begin to have flashbacks to my own childhood.  I vividly remember sitting at the kitchen island when I was a teenager.  After dinner, we’d clear the table together.  Mom would wash, Dad would dry, and I’d sit and chit-chat, and help when needed.  I loved watching the two of them, my parents.  Mom would scrub and talk, washing in water so hot it would scald her hands, but she never seemed to notice.  Daddy would towel dry and pick on Mom at the same time.
“Am I supposed to wipe off what you don’t wash off?” he’d tease, poking fun at Mom if she missed a spot.  “Shut up!” she’d say, playfully.
{My awesome mom & dad}
They flirted constantly.  I even saw her slap Daddy in the face with a handful of suds one time.  He came in the kitchen as Mom stood at the sink in her business suit and proceeded to tuck the hem of her skirt into her waistband, exposing her back side.  He had it coming if you ask me!
We had a dishwasher.  A really nice one, in fact.  My parents built their dream home together when I was 13 in Richmond Hill, Georgia.  The true South.  It was a beautiful colonial style home with huge picture windows in the living room and master bedroom, surrounded by over 2 acres of beautiful trees.  I had almost an entire half of the upstairs to myself – giNORmous walk-in closet, window seat in my bedroom, separate garden tub and walk-in shower (ummmm…only child + dream home for my parents = awesome sauce).  We had a small library at the top of the stairs with built-in bookcases just like Mom wanted, and a cute little octagon-shaped stained glass window that Daddy had to figure out how to build the house around, because Mom bought it before they even had house plans and it had to go in that room.
{Our pretty house}
Our kitchen was huge, perfect for entertaining, which is something Mom and Dad were known for.  We had parties like you wouldn’t believe!  Our kitchen was laid out for entertaining – a big island in the center, lots of counter space and cabinets, a pantry with ample storage, dining room on one side of the kitchen and a fireplace.  All of it was surrounded by two sets of French doors that opened up onto our wrap-around porch.
Mom wanted a dishwasher in the kitchen when we built that house.  The only time she used it was during parties, though.  Every other night of the week, she hand-washed each dish.  That hot water steaming up from the sink, the silly banter between my parents in full force.  Mom didn’t like to leave anything undone at the end of the day.  All the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, ready to be used again the next day.  The countertops and sink were all wiped down, and towels hung to dry.
I am my mother’s child.  As I stood at my own sink, in the home my husband and I just recently purchased, I smiled…hands in a sink of scalding hot water, husband behind me handing me the dishes, my daughter telling us about her day.  At the end of the evening, all the dishes have been washed, dried and put away.  The sinks and countertops have been wiped down.  My family and I sit on the couch winding down for the evening.
And I can’t help but think….
This is the life.
This is the stuff of memories.
And for that, I am grateful for a sink full of dirty dishes.


12 Responses

  1. What a great memory! You described it so perfectly…and made an everyday task seem so special. I have great memories of my mom and aunts cleaning up family dinners and washing the dishes together while chatting and I love those memories. I can still hear my grandma whistling while she cooked at the stove. Your post brought back my own memories. 🙂

  2. Awww…Kim! I’m so glad! I love memories like that – warms my heart, and reminds me that family is oh so important, even in the day-to-day stuff like dishes. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by today, and for your sweet words.

  3. I have always thought I needed a dishwasher… but since I have to scrub or at the very least rinse my dishes before I can wash them (if I want them clean…) in the dishwasher, I’ve spent the past few days doing them by hand.

    I, too, found it strangely relaxing. I was sure I was losing my mind. ^_~

    The pipe disconnected from my sink this morning, making quite the mess. So I can’t use either it or the dishwasher until the silly pipe is fixed… hopefully I’ll be successful in that endeavor tomorrow…

    Your parents sound like wonderful people! =D
    I loved this little trip into your memories. ^-^


  4. I came across your blog from SITS. — I enjoyed reading your post. I, too, find washing dishes therapeutic. It gives me a chance to think about things. Sort of like having a break.

  5. I have never had a dishwasher! 🙂 But what a wonderful and enjoyable post about washing dishes! Visiting from “Simple as That” this morning…have a great Sunday!


I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace supports women seeking to find balance in the busy, deepen their faith, and instill joy and love in their homes, lives, and blogs by providing encouraging and inspiring content and valuable resources. My prayer is for you to leave here better than when you came. Be blessed!