Kitchen Culture

Dishwater Zen

FullSizeRender (1)It is 6.22 a.m.  My alarm went off this morning and I woke up mad.  Yesterday was an eternally long day that saw me getting home after ten last night to a jury summons that is supposed to be the first two days when I am out of the country on vacation. (What a great birthday present from my beloved city.)  And today is going to be just as long, just as busy, and leave me just as frazzled.  I am exhausted just thinking about it.

“So,” you may ask, “if you really are this much of a hot mess, why on earth are you posting at 6.30 in the morning?”

I am posting because I just had a five-minute centering moment.

I washed my dishes.

I know some of you busy career women-and-moms just re-read that sentence to check for typos.  There aren’t any.  I love washing dishes.

I grew up like most kids in the suburbs with the standard dishwasher and siblings who argued over who had to load or unload it, and parents who nagged at us to “rinse the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher!  Look at this!  Now there’s food stuck to this that will never come off!”  My first apartment senza dishwasher was like kitchen purgatory.  I was absolutely horrified.

But over the years, I’ve made my peace with the dishes, and I’ve even come to love the process.  (Now, I’m sure if I had three kids under five like some of my friends, I would be willing to kill people for a dishwasher, but I’ll ride this wave while I can…)

I think what I really like about washing dishes is that, for a few minutes anyway, it forces life to slow down.  You can’t really multitask washing dishes.  You can only wash one at a time.

I like the feeling of the warm water.  I like that I feel like I’m accomplishing things as the dishes pile up in the drying rack.   I even like the Tetris-style puzzle that drying rack becomes as I try to stack just one more pan, because I staunchly refuse to get out a towel and dry it when the air can do just as good a job.  If I have a lot of dishes to wash (this happens when I get really ambitious and suddenly realize I’ve got three projects going–one in the oven, one on the range, and one in the CrockPot), I’ll even turn on my Nat King Cole Pandora station and have a ’50’s jam session.

Washing dishes makes me thankful.  Because my kitchen came to be over a series of small purchases, I always find myself thinking about how much I like this pan, that spoon, “Wow, Teflon really is an incredible invention,” what an awesome find those silly “Twelve Days of Christmas” glasses were.  I take the time to love the objects in my life–even though they are just objects–and be thankful that I have them to make my life easier.  It gives me a moment to collect my thoughts and find my footing.

It gives me a moment to remember that my life is actually pretty great–how many great things, activities, and people are in it.  (I mean, how many people can say they actually like their job?)  It reminds me that my current crisis really isn’t one.  That I will survive, and the sun will still be rising in the east when it’s over.

Then I turn off the water and dry my hands.

I have reached Dishwater Zen.


8 thoughts on “Dishwater Zen

  1. This is beautiful! I hate a sad or angry awakening. Centering yourself in any way possible does help. You may even have given me a topic for a slice because this post brought me back to the wonderful memories of doing the dishes with my sisters as youngster. Enjoy your day!

  2. We had no dishwasher growing up. Washing the dishes was our job but my mom often said she’d do it because she liked “soaking my hands”. I think it was her time to look out the kitchen window and just take a moment to be. I discovered the zen of dishwashing in my first house. I have a dishwasher now, which is convenient, but I occasionally wash things by hand because I also like to “soak my hands”.

  3. Emily you are I are dishwater Zen sisters! Honestly I could have written this slice because I feel exactly the same way! The warm water, thinking about the piece you are washing, OMG amazing!!!!

  4. My husband has discovered that washing dishes is peaceful. Our dishwasher broke down and money to replace is not here yet.

  5. I would NEVER admit that I like washing dishes by hand, but I have a working dishwasher and STILL choose to do it by hand. I feel your zen…

  6. The last line, “I have reached Dishwater Zen,’ ties so beautifully to the beginning of your slice, “I just had a five-minute centering moment.” Loved it. I’m glad you found peace in the sudsy water.

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