Sometimes I’d Rather Do Dishes


I used to hate doing dishes more than anything. Now I realize what an escape it can be from the complications of real life. Doing dishes allows me to pull my weight in the family and to feel productive. These days, after dinner, I light a candle and get to work. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes I’d rather be doing dishes than anything else.

Sometimes I’d rather do dishes than play with my children. Dishes don’t fight with each other. They don’t squabble, argue, hit each other, tell each other that they hate them. Dishes don’t tell each other that they will die. Dishes just sit there, peacefully.

Sometimes I’d rather do dishes than talk to my partner. Doing dishes takes no mental work from me. It’s all physical: did I scrub that dish hard enough for the crusties to come off? Yes or no? I don’t always do the dishes well, so sometimes I find out the next day that the answer was no. Still, they never need me to use my listening ears and activate my empathy.

Sometimes I’d rather do dishes than give the kids a bath. Dishes don’t throw water out of the bathtub or drop their toys into the toilet. Dishes don’t even have toys! Dishes are awfully simple creatures, and they know how to take their bath. They appreciate me scrubbing them down. I don’t have to fight with them to wash their hair (or give up because their screams of terror make me feel bad for them). Dishes are never scared of me, and I can do them at my leisure.

Sometimes I’d rather do dishes than talk to a friend on the phone. Dishes need no emotional support. Dishes don’t talk to me or want me to listen to them. If I’m distracted, dishes don’t mind, and I don’t have to pretend-listen. Dishes are quiet. Sometimes I listen to a podcast while washing dishes, but other times I just want quiet. I have grown fond of uni-tasking, and I have discovered the meditation of dishwashing.

Sometimes I’d rather do dishes than have sex. Dishes don’t have expectations. Dishes don’t care whether I have a good time doing them. In fact, they don’t even care if I do them or not. They have mastered the poker-face, the art of not giving an eff. They have complete detachment and indifference to me and my desires. Dishes play hard to get: they can withstand me more than I can them. I always cave in, and do them before too long.

After washing the dishes, I scrub the counter and the sink, and then I relish my real, tangible, visible accomplishment. I get to look at a clean kitchen and tell myself that I have succeeded at something, even if it’s the only thing I’ve done well all day.

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Mariana loves sandwiches best, although going 95% vegan two years ago means having traded in ham and swiss for eggplant and roasted red pepper. Her boys, Santiago (5) and Sebastian (3), agree that sliced bread is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The boys are native Spanish speakers despite the fact that neither of their parents is, which has made raising them in Spanish a labor of love. Her commitment to raising bilingual children was made possible by being a first-generation Chilean-American born and raised in New York City, and by having spent two pre-kid years living abroad in Mexico City and Salamanca, Spain. Mariana moved to the RGV in 2010 and never wants to live anywhere else. While the kids are at school, Mariana is a full-time Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UTRGV. She has written for the New York Times, Womankind Magazine, and Yahoo Parenting.


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