If you’ve been coming here for any amount of time, you know I get my inspiration from all kinds of crazy places. My son, my wife, my family, work are all examples, but I’ve found epiphanies can come from even the most mundane places. It happened while I was stuck in traffic a few months ago, and something similar struck me yesterday in the kitchen.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels stretched too thin and worked to the bone.
In the morning I get Will dressed, deal with his tantrums and drop him off at daycare. Then, after a full day of work, it’s usually incumbent upon me to also pick him up before 5. Some days I’m not done with a story, so I need to leave work, get him and then finish writing my story from home. Which if you’ve ever tried to actually be productive with a whiny, needy 3-year-old in the same domicile, you know is next to impossible. I’d say at least three times a week I’m responsible for cooking us all dinner as well.
But even after MJ gets home I’m still not done. My work at the Good Men Project is truly a part-time job now, taking up far more time than I envisioned. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I do it because I believe in what they’re trying to do. But there are only so many hours in the day. Then there’s the rigmarole of feeding the dog, taking her for a walk, giving Will a bath, getting him into his PJ’s and getting him to bed. By the time all that is done it can be close to 9 p.m. some nights.
But just when you think you can relax, you remember the kitty litter has to be cleaned. And the trash has to be taken out. When you’re done with that and you settle comfortably into the ass-dent in your couch, that’s right about the time the dog starts pacing by the door to let you know she has to go out again. So you get up and do that, only to notice the sprawling mass of dirty dishes threatening to climb out of the sink and take over the kitchen.
I’ll tell you right now, ever since Will came along the dishwasher has been my personal nemesis.
Before Will, the dishes were simple. They only had to be done every other day and it was all big, standard stuff. Bowls, plates, silverware, glasses. Maybe the occasional crockpot or frying pan, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Everything had a place in my dishwasher and I could finish the task in no time flat.
Now? Not so much.
Sure we still have all of our stuff, but it’s not the big items that annoy me. It’s the collection of small items that haunt my dreams. We have Will’s little plates, Will’s little forks and Will’s little spoons. We have all of the little Tupperware containers we use for Will’s lunch. And of course, each one of those containers has a wee little lid to go with it. We have sippy cups with sippy cup lids and big boy cups which aren’t actually big at all.
So what does all this mean? It means I used to grab the things out of the sink, put them in the dishwasher and be done with them. But now it feels like I reach into a bottomless pit of a sink—taking out tiny item after tiny item—and after an hour I look down and there’s still TONS of shit left to wash. The big plates and bowls and cooking equipment are no problem. Once they’re gone I feel better because it looks like I’ve made a dent. But Will’s dirty dishes are a collection of little things, rising up against me in a sea of anxiety-ridden filth.
That dishwasher represents parenting in a nutshell. A never-ending task of innumerable little items which you not only have to somehow fit all in one place, but also make sparkling clean when you’re done. And just when you think you’ve caught up, another pile of dishes gets tossed your way. And this happens every single day.
MJ recently told me she thinks we need a new, bigger dishwasher. She has no idea how right she is.