After dinner last night, my husband helped unload the dishwasher and went into the other room to watch football. As I washed the dishes, something felt different. It was quiet. And a bit lonely.
Since Thanksgiving, we’ve had a busy household. Talee was home from college for a month. It was hard to say goodbye this past weekend. Mackenzie, who lives about an hour away, had been home often during the holidays. I got used to my girls filling our home with chatter and giggles.
We did a lot of entertaining the last month. Cooking, eating, and yes — washing dishes. It seemed like I always had someone there, offering to help. But it wasn’t just that they dried the pots and pans. We talked, laughed, shared stories and secrets. It made standing at the sink with my hands in soapy water, well… fun.
Some nights it was Mackenzie or Talee helping. Other times it was my mom, sisters, nieces, or close friends. It’s not just the women who do dishes at our house. My brother-in-law often steps in, and I’m grateful that my husband does too.
But there’s something about doing dishes with other women that’s special to me. We’re standing in one place, completing a necessary job. As we work, we bond.
My parents come over for dinner almost every Sunday. After we eat, my mom and I clean up, and my dad and husband chat at the table in the other room. They’re not paying attention to us, and Mom and I have a chance to talk about “girl things.” Maybe it’s clothes, our hair, or what color nail polish we’d like to try. Sometimes it’s to vent our frustrations and divulge our worries. Whatever the conversation, it’s just between us.
My mother-in-law lived with us for five years before she passed away. She had health issues, which made it difficult for her to do many things. But she insisted on helping me after dinner. She’d say that since I did all the cooking, the least she could do was dry the dishes.
She told me things I never knew about her childhood, her jobs, or what it was like when she was a teenager in the late 1940s, dating her future husband. I loved her stories, and honestly don’t think I would’ve heard them if we hadn’t been doing the dishes. I cherished those moments together.
I’m not sure what it is about helping in the kitchen that makes it such a great time to bond. Maybe it’s working toward the common goal of cleaning the mess. Everyone feels useful, whether it’s scraping food off the plates, hand washing the wine glasses, or putting leftover turkey and mashed potatoes into Ziploc bags.
I think of it as an unsaid time for women to share something in common, something we all know how to do. It can be a mundane chore. But when sharing the work, it somehow doesn’t feel that way.
Now that the holidays are over, I’ll need to adjust to my solitary job in the kitchen. At least I’ll have plenty of time to daydream. And think about the lovely women in my life.
First image courtesy of here
Second image courtesy of here