I’m curious what my grandmothers would think of me standing over a makeshift sink washing dishes by hand in the bathroom, enjoying every second of this almost-forgotten, ancient, stereotypically-female task. My grandmothers, long gone now, did this every day, probably 3-6 times a day, while in my family unit my husband usually handles it. And, now that he and I have an agreed-upon system (he empties the dishwasher in the morning, I fill it back up throughout the day, he does the final touches at night), I can look back over almost a decade of being together and laugh at us; experts say that the #1 cause of fighting amongst couples is finances, but for us it’s been dishes.
I’m doing dishes in the bathroom because as of this week we are remodeling our kitchen, and laundry room, and adding a second bathroom, which means that our current bathroom is the only room in the house with running water. The remodel is projected to take a month, but I’m telling myself to expect a finished product by Christmas, just in case.
And I should say we “had” the agreed upon system for dishes. Now, without a dishwasher, it’s possible that we’re starting over at square 1. Or square -2. It’s possible that we are plunging back a couple generations, back to my grandmother’s time of being without the handy dandy machines that make it so possible to do chores quickly, and it does make me wonder whether I’ll end up doing all the dishes myself (along with putting the kids to bed and other supposedly matronly tasks) or whether we’ll deviate from older gender roles and come up with our own system, tailor made to fit the new needs of now. Either way, I’m also curious whether I’ll enjoy it or chafe against it. Because one thing’s for certain: if the dishes are going to take longer then we’re going to have to slow down on everything else.
If someone has to spend an hour doing dishes every night, then maybe my husband and I will cut out our tv time and listen to music instead. Maybe I’ll wash and he’ll dry or we’ll take turns, and we’ll just shoot the breeze all fall, dreaming of things to come and reminiscing about what has passed. Maybe we’ll rock-paper-scissors for who gets dishes and who gets quiet time, but regardless of what we do, I imagine my grandmothers will be smiling if we continue to learn how to do it together.