Login | Register | Subscribe to the GG RSS Feed

Dishwashing Therapy – the Secret to Happiness?

Sharing the ups and downs of life over a sink of dirty dishes

The party had ended, the guests gone home. I flicked on the light in the kitchen, and immediately wished I hadn't. Dirty dishes sat everywhere. My husband laid a warm hand on my shoulder and whispered, "It isn't as bad as it looks."

I sighed and reached across the counter to fill the sink with water.   Steam began to rise in spirals and bubbles frothed at my fingertips. Weariness melted away as I lost myself in the rhythmic rinsing, dunking and washing of the dishes. It's always been this way for me.

The cleaning of the plates and clearing of the mind

Dishwashing therapyDishwashing therapyI don't want to glorify my dishwashing - it isn't exactly as cleansing as a brisk walk in the wilderness. But, in a busy life (sometimes filled with frustration) it might just be the next best thing.

When left to my own solitude to scrub away the grease, it's as if I am also filtering the debris that clouds my thoughts. Solutions to problems appear and calmly rearrange the chaos, as if they've been waiting for me to relax and find them.

Some of my best memories of family dinners revolve around the cleanup afterward. When I was a kid, we did our best to scurry out of sight before being nabbed for dish duty. But once there, placed upon the chair in front of the sink, we sang silly songs and listened to stories we might not have otherwise heard. Grandma fed me nibbles of dessert as she walked past, my mother turning away smiling, pretending not to see.

As I grew and invited boys for dinner, dishwashing became the ultimate test. If he stood to help when my mother pushed her chair back, he passed. If he lingered and needed to be nudged to help, he forfeited future invitations.

My husband passed the test on his first visit to our house. I remember holding my breath as my mother stood to begin the clearing. I looked over at my dad, praying feverishly that the heartthrob sitting beside me would know, somehow, to rise and get to it. He did...

Dishwashing - free, effective therapy

No whining allowedNo whining allowedWe've ended many parties with our guests rolling up shirt-sleeves and pitching in. We've shared the griefs of our lives, washing dishes when we didn't want to return to a crowded room full of people. We've reveled in the miracle of life as hands reached out to touch a baby kicking within. We've swung tea towels over our shoulders as we held each other to cry and laugh.

I own a dishwasher now, but I still prefer the old-fashioned way, the way my mother did it, and her mother did it: a sink full of warm soapy water, a cotton dishcloth and my own two hands.

I still prefer washing dishes to almost any other chore. I can step over piles of laundry, pretending not to see. I can systematically avoid rooms screaming to be vacuumed. But I'll always be the first to offer to wash the dishes.

When my own children were younger, washing dishes slowed our evenings down. As their hands swished the cloth through soapy water, they told me things in side-by-side conversations that they'd never share if asked.

In a complicated world full of challenges that have neither beginnings nor endings, dishwashing reminds me that not all jobs are complicated. Some are simple and easily completed - plate by plate, glass by glass, pot by pot. Order comes from chaos.

If only the rest of our lives were this simple.

Dishwashing brings joy and conversation and closeness after a meal. In the process, a kitchen thrown into disarray over the course of the evening is folded back into place again.

I have never seen an automatic dishwasher do that.

How do you feel about dishwashing? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and let's start talking!

Related Stories

Rate This post

Post new comment

GoGirlfriend Recommendations

Travel Planning

Lonely Planet


Membership is free and with it you can set up a profile, vote on stories and post your opinions.

Already a member?

Not a member? Join!

Most Recent Comments

  • On 6 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) in Self-Isolation, admin said "Thanks Bat-El for the great tip. We've included your link in our Bonus Ideas from our Community section so others can enjoy. I really enjoyed the Stonehenge tour ... it's on my bucket list!"
  • On 6 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) in Self-Isolation, Bat-El Galor said "My name is Bat-El, and I'm working in collaboration with Travel Trend website. We've recently published a post -"Top 100 virtual tours around the world". After looking at these wonderful tips to survive in self-isolation; It occurred to me that our post could also contribute to your readers with further virtual tours resources. The post includes 100 links to virtual tours and unique experiences around the world. Feel free to check out the link and enjoy your travels ... https://www.trvltrend.com/technology/virtual-tours/ Cheers,"
  • On Cuba Travel ~ 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go, admin said "Thanks Gordon for the update ... and given most routes to the resorts on the coast are an hour+ and it's Cuban warm, that money for a beverage is a great tip!"
  • On Cuba Travel ~ 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go, Gordon Mitchell said "Over the last few years The $25 departure tax has been included in your airfare. Make sure you convert your cash at the airport so you can buy a cold beer on the bus on your way to the resort. They will take canadian money but not loonies and toonies. "
  • On Lesbian Adventure Travel, Debbie Clarke said "If you're considering New Zealand, then New Zealand Awaits is lesbian owned and operated (yes I'm the founder, owner, and guide). We run active and not so active tours for lesbians, as well as some LGBTQ mixed trips. We create itineraries for travellers wanting to self drive, and we have private guides. Come see us! "

Blogs We Love

beautiful Vancouver, British ColumbiaCheck out our GoGirlfriend Facebook page to follow us as we seek new adventures and create memories in our own part of the world.