Dishes (freewriting 1.9)

Natalie’s prompt: Tell me about a time you washed the dishes. Go. Ten minutes.

Growing up I had two sisters and a mom who usually did the dishes. We never had a dishwasher that I can recall, so time spent around the sink was not an unusual sight. I got drafted to help on many occasions, and usually insisted that I be the one who got to wash. Drying was boring; I hated waiting for the next dish to be placed dripping and hot in the plastic drainer sitting beside the sink on the counter, and I didn’t like the way the pot or the plate never seemed quite dry even after I took the time to find the driest part of the towel to wipe it with. Washing was definitely more my style – bubbles, scrubbing and rinsing left little to get bent out of shape over.

Of course my mom and I didn’t always see eye to eye. There would be times where I felt that she cared more for my sisters when she allowed them to help out so much in the kitchen. Silly, I know, but there it is. If mom was in the kitchen, and I wasn’t welcome there, then there was a distance between us – physically and emotionally. So one evening during my early high school years, when the gap between my mom and I seemed to be widening, I took advantage of an evening when mom and dad were away somewhere and washed the dishes that had been left in the sink over the course of the day. I worked fast because I wanted to get the job done before they got home so mom would be surprised and lavish a tiny bit of praise my way. It felt good to be helpful, but the feeling that I had to somehow earn mom’s praise trumped whatever sense of helpfulness and “doing my part” I might have tried to claim.

Yes, she was surprised. Yes she said thank you and the gap closed a bit. But even today I find myself being helpful on many occasions not out of a sense of responsibility or genuine care and concern but rather out of a need to be noticed and recognized and praised. There’s a fine line there somewhere that always been a bit blurry . . .

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3 thoughts on “Dishes (freewriting 1.9)

  1. I love the image of the your mother coming home to such a simple, heartfelt message. I’ve grinned over many a clean sink-full myself. Lovely stuff.

  2. I think there is a bit of selfishness in all of us. A need for attention that may have always been there but resides hidden below the surface tension of a relationship. We all have a need for more attention when the “gap” in any relationship- whatever that may be- seems too big or changes too abruptly. Great post Brian. There is alot of meaning there. Alot that rolls along under the surface of those soapy bubbles. Keep up the good work.

  3. i commend you for your ability to write about such a simple, regular and to evoke so many different thoughts and feelings out of readers. it makes me think of things i did to get my parents’ attention when i was younger. i never thought to do the dishes. ha. i hated it so.

    — lissa (aka turtlefly)

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