I am standing in my kitchen already feeling a little blue. I don’t know if it is the cold weather, the let down after the constant activity of the holidays or my internal stress about being good enough for this blog, but there seems to be a little cloud following me that I can not shake. I am not so much overwhelmed with life right now, but just maybe, stagnant in it. I feel like I have so much to do and such little desire to do it. As I turn around and survey the damage that raising three children and three dogs in a house can do, I see my massive pile of dishes that never seems to go away. With a deep sigh of feeling I am a failure because I did not do them the night before, I am struck with the thought of how a sink full of dishes affects my self esteem.
I am sure we have all done it at some point and time. Though I am sure I will have a reader tell me that her dishes never, ever… like EVER, pile up. But for the majority of us, dishes just seem to multiply faster than we can do them. I mean, the dishwasher only holds so much.
In fact, I can honestly say that despite trying to do my dishes everyday, mine pile up more days than they do not. I have tried all the tricks to get them done. Washed as I go… that lasted for one glass; empty in the morning, fill in the evening… that lasted until the first night we had an after school activity; and even using paper plates. But what about the pots I cook in?
I just feel like the dishes are a constant nemesis. Along with laundry it seems that no matter what I do, the chore is never done.
The interesting thing is that the dishes really don’t take that long to do. Getting over the procrastination is the hardest part. Passing the sink 50 times a day promising to get them done as soon as I: finish that post that is due, feed the dogs, wake the kids for school, brush three heads of hair, show my kids how to properly brush their teeth – again, answer that phone call, take that coveted shower, get ready for CrossFit, prep for dinner, and on and on, is the most time consuming part. I once timed how long it took to actually unload the dishwasher, load it up, wash the remaining ones that didn’t fit because I lost at dishwasher Tetris, and it was less than 12 minutes.
That’s it. 12 minutes. 6 hours of procrastinating. 12 minutes for the chore.
It’s shameful. It really is.
Thus the daily berating of myself for ever letting them get to the ‘pile’ status. When I go to my moms house, the dishes are always done. When I go to my neighbor’s house, the dishes are always done. When I walk into my house, the dishes never seem done.
It really is hard on my self-esteem because I KNOW that I can get them done in a timely manner and keep them done. The fact that I can not seem to consistently make it happen seems a pattern in my life. I do really well for a little while and then it all spins out of control. For a week I can keep them done, have pride in a clean sink, wish people would drop in to see how awesome I am. But then, something happens and it all falls apart again. The pile mocks me. Daring me to succeed against them once again.
But, like life, I never seem to feel like I have it all together for very long. I guess that is pretty normal though. And maybe I don’t really know that my mom and my neighbor and that perfect mother on Facebook also has a pile that she can’t seem to find the the 12 minutes it takes to make it perfect again. She never talks about it, never shares her secret, never complains about how tiring that 12 minute chore can become. She hides her pile in secret, scared that anyone might find out and ruin the image she is trying to portray.
When I do finally stop at the sink and spend the time to do the dishes, I feel great! I feel accomplished, successful and ready to take on the world. My kitchen sparkles and I do have a smile. That renewed promise to keep it this way seems possible. It is an elation that is somewhat ridiculous to admit to.
In the end, though, maybe the dishes have nothing to do with anyone’s self esteem. Maybe they are just what they are. A pile created by the family that is lucky enough to have enough to eat to even create the pile.
Or maybe they are a reminder that everyone has a pile. Just because we don’t see it does not mean it is there. And just because someone has one does not mean that they are less than anyone else. It just means that we are all trying to find that 12 minutes to do what needs to be done to make that smile on our face sparkle again.