A pile of dirty dishes. That’s all it is.
It’s not enough that the once wreck of a family room is now somehow in order, cleared of almost all unnecessary additions, the floor vacuumed. It doesn’t matter that the kitchen, hallway, and bathroom floors find themselves the cleanest they’ve been in weeks. And it doesn’t really help that all clean laundry is finally put away.
None of those accomplishments make the pile of dirty dishes any smaller or any less in need of being cleaned.
The former accomplishments are definitely that—accomplishments. Leaving my legs sore in places I had completely forgotten had muscles that could be made sore. They are tasks that had weighed on my mind for days, likely weeks, and that were spurred on to desperate completion by an unexpected impending arrival of company. It had to be done.
Now, the company gone, the house has not had time to become a wreck all over again. But as eating never seems to end, neither do the dirty dishes.
I never liked doing dishes. And I gather few people do.
But being a wife put a new perspective on that task, and I find that as much as I dislike it, I am the one who’s supposed to do them, and also the one who’s here all the time, so they must be done, of course. So when I do them, the view of a clean kitchen brings quite a pleasant feeling inside, knowing I, the wife, have done our dishes.
However, it is a known fact that dishes never really cease being dirty. Literally as soon as the last one is put away, a dirty cup appears in the sink, beginning the next mound to be tackled … later.
So, dirty dishes? A pile of them? That’s nothing new. And neither is the eventual though delayed tackled-ness of them. So where lies the problem?
Returning to the beginning: the clean family room, cleaner floors, and put-away clothes? And what they left me with? Or rather, what they took from me? There’s none of that left to conquer those dishes. So I do not stand at the sink, winning the battle one plate, one fork at a time. I rather sit here, slouched in a chair, tears running down my face, looking across the room at the enemy.
And I cry, not because the dishes are dirty. Not because they will remain dirty for who knows how much longer. And not even because I don’t want to do them.
But because I cannot do them.
Further, that it is actually not in my best interest to do them. And not only that, but because I see the piles of dishes dotting my horizon for the length of the rest of my life on earth and know that every single one of them will look just like this one. The number of personnel will change. The levels of dirtiness thereof will wax and wane. But I will not change. Every pile of dishes will look like this one: My struggle personified.
Life calls. Duty calls. Housewifeliness calls. And time after time I must tell it to wait. Because I can either answer as my mind wants to, as I feel a wife ought to, if I have enough left in me to do so, and therefore spend the next day or week in bed, completely unable to do any of the former; or I can put things on hold, say no to two-thirds of all I need or want to do, feel like a complete and utter useless bum, and let the dishes sit there. And catch a glimpse of the rest of my life, sentenced to playing a losing game.
How many people can say they have sat and cried like their heart was half-broken looking at a pile of dirty dishes? Almost laughable, the thought. Almost. Just not in my tired mind.