Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Squeaky Clean Enough

I am my mother's daughter.  She taught me just about everything I know. As I was growing up, my mother taught me how to do the dishes, "her way."  I was, of course, excited, as little kids are, that my mother was taking the time to teach me a motherly and housewifely chore.  A rite of passage, so to speak. So when she let me try to do the dishes by myself for the first time, rather than helping her, I was so proud.  When she came into the kitchen to inspect my work, is when she turned into the wicked stepmother from Cinderella.  "These dishes are not clean.  You have to wash them all again!  They must be clean enough to eat off, before you load them into the dishwasher!"   I asked her why.  She responded, "because the dishwasher gets them extra clean." OK.(grumble, grumble, tears)
   So I went through several more times of washing and rewashing dishes after inspection(and many episodes of griping about her under my breath).  Finally I got it right.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and made every dish so clean that it would squeak when you rubbed.  The value of having clean dishes was ingrained into me, over years of doing the dishes.  I later found out my mother detested doing dishes.  That had been her chore growing up in my Nana's house.  Who knew?  So that became my daily chore.  Doing the dishes.
   After college, I moved back home for six months.  My chore was again, the dishes.  My mother told me that I could do pretty much whatever I wanted, but the dishes had to be clean before I left the house.  This did not sit too well with me, because I had been independent for four years, and had that independent cockiness one gets when they leave the nest.  So as you can imagine, we had many go rounds about the dishes.  Eventually, I moved back out on my own.  I would do or not do my own daggone dishes when and if I felt like it!
   So like all young adults, when I struck out on my own, I rebelled.  The best way I knew how.  I did NOT do the dishes.  Oh every now and again, I would do them, or guilt or gross out one of my girlfriends into doing them.  Some were so gross, they had to be thrown away, as my former roomates can attest.  I do not belong in a kitchen.  I burn things, have come very close to blowing up the whole house, or killing the houses occupants several times. Dishes are the thing I do best in the kitchen.
   So as I have grown up, I have found myself to be more and more like my mother, in almost every way, including dish washing.  When my oldest stepdaughter attained the magical age of dish washing worthiness, I too passed down this sacred art.  My mother's way, her mother's way of doing dishes.  She too failed at first, but after practice, she too mastered the art of squeaky clean enough.  I too turned into, literally, the evil stepmother.  I so felt like my mother when I had to make her rewash the dishes for the first time. Thanks Mom! She is currently in her rebellious dish phase, being almost twenty.
  Now every house I have lived in, save one, has had a dishwasher.  I prefer not to use them.  I prefer my mother's method.  I always felt, as did my dear old mom, that the dishwasher just did not get the dishes clean enough.  Call it passed down OCD'ed-ness, or whatever you want, but it remains just the same.  As I have gotten older, I look back fondly on times my mother and I, or my Nana and I, or my father and I have done the dishes together.  It was a right of passage, a form of family bonding, a time to chat, laugh and share between just the two people at the sink.  I cherish those times now, as well as the art of dish washing, that my mother passed down to me, because she is no longer with us.  It may seem silly to some to cherish such seemingly strange memories, but coming from a long line of working moms who chose to become stay at home mothers,  I do. the women in my family were always trying to feed you something.  They always wanted to take care of their families, and filling your belly was a must.  The women in my family have always been  the kind to take great care of their families, and everybody else's too. On squeaky clean plates of course.
    Maybe the reason for squeaky clean dishes, was because my grandmother and mother were ALWAYS feeding people.  Lots of people.  Our family, extended family, my friends, my brother's friends, birthday parties, wedding anniversary parties, and most importantly holidays.  My Nana's and later on my mother's houses were the gathering places for holidays.  The big, loud family celebrations where everybody, including friends, was welcome.  The more the merrier.  The more people that came, the more dishes that were needed.  For shame, if anyone spotted a leftover food spot on a plate, cup,  or in a saucer!  That would mean that the owner of the offending dirty dish was not good at her duties as a stay at home wife and mother.  The pride of these strong wonderful women comes from doing an excellent job of taking care of their children, spouses, and homes(which includes dishes).  A dirty dish?  In this house??? Never!
   So I find myself frequently, while standing at the sink washing dishes, thinking of all of the fond memories I have of  those long ago times at the sink with my family.  I have learned a lot, while doing dishes at various family sinks.  Sometimes, a lot more than I ever cared to know! Doesn't everybody else's families sneak into the kitchen to share juicy little tidbits of gossip, where they think no one else can hear? (OMG..did you see all the food that was stuck on her dishes???) Away from the rest of the family? Yeah, like I said, I learned a lot.  I would not trade one single minute , memory, or lesson for anything else in the world.
  So for those of you who are aware of my dishes OCD'ed-ness, and the rebellious dishes phase, hope this helps to explain it! It's a family thing!

1 comment:

  1. You are so not an evil step mom. I don't think you're capable of evil lol.
    And, while I admire your nana's and mom's and your ability to be stay at home moms and wives, I don't think this is a phase for me. I find that working for corporate America brings me more pleasure and fulfillment than I could at home. Not judging, not at all, part of me wishes I could handle a job as big as mommy'ing, but I seriously don't think it's for me. Dishwashers get my dishes clean enough and I don't plan on hosting anything any time soon lol, have I told you how my first Thanksgiving I hosted went? Everyone got sick. Ev. Ry. One. Probably because I don't like washing dishes lmao.
    But you're not evil. You're amazing. Not just in the fact that you actually wash dishes, either.