Sunday, May 29, 2011

Turning kitchen warrior

I cringe at the thought of washing the dishes. Oh, let me correct that: I cringed at the thought of washing the dishes. Had I blogged about it yesteday, the present tense would have been appropriate. But our household helper coming back today seems to make all the difference as to my sentiments toward this chore...

It is really something I am still trying to understand. Several days ago, I felt I needed help. I had come to dread the hour or so before lunch time or dinner time only because that would mean I would have to do the dishes soon after. I didn't understand the change in sentiment -- I had come to like dishwashing and to accept it as a normal part of family life (only when our househelper is away for days or weeks, though).

I had even looked forward to carrying out this duty especially when I had been gone the whole day and thus would only have the dishwashing as my contribution to the upkeep of the home for that day.

But about a week ago started the dishwashing-dreading. "I need help in making dishwashing more appealing," I told some online friends. Till then I had already gone through quite a lot of musical genres to accompany me at the sink (Beatles, classical, movie themes -- but I had grown fond of Vivaldi and Mozart playing in the background while I worked the suds; they seem to emphasize the dignity of housework somehow, and bolster my enthusiasm for the task at hand). But procrastinating till almost midnight before finally facing a dirty stack of china meant I needed help!

"Dance the cha-cha while washing the dishes?" someone suggested. That was an amusing thought, and to my mind it posed a challenge in keeping the suds off the floor.

"Why don't you play 'Handel's Messiah' while you're at it?" another one proposed. I had done that before, I replied, but did put a certain "ooomph" into my spirits every time I was all set to conquer the dirty dishes and helped me remember the truth that every kind of honest work carries with it a certain dignity. So, no matter how menial household chores seemed to feel at times, listening to the Halleluia chorus was a welcome reminder of work well done being a good thing to offer to the One who blessed me with hands to work with in the first place.

Somehow the Hail Mary -- the words that the Angel Gabriel uttered to the mother of Jesus when it was made known to her that she had been chosen for a very special mission in the story of salvation -- found its way into the conversation. I had asked for a Tagalog translation and someone provided it. I figured, since I hadn't memorized it, might as well work on it while scrubbing dinner plates.

Feeling irked by the prospect of dishwashing got me really thinking. I mean, if I could enjoy chores one day and almost loathe them the next, where's the stability in that? And what if it graduates to more important things, like marriage? It's a fact that marriage is no walk in the park and that efforts are necessary to live it as it is meant to be.

Just like dishwashing, living one's lifelong commitment is bound to feel boring once in a while. Should that be surprising? I suppose not (so why am I puzzled by my sudden desire to flash the "talk to the hand" stance at dirty dishes that await me?). Maybe because knowing it and experiencing it are two different things. And though I uttered no vows to declare a lifelong commitment to dishwashing, the same principle stands: the beauty of keeping at it regardless of how one feels about the whole thing. I hope a married person gets to read this sometime in the midst of a rocky stage in the relationship, and take home the point that marriage indeed is a bed of roses -- which means the presence of thorns. And they will make themselves felt from time to time. But that doesn't take away the beauty and the value of the bouquet that is meant to last a lifetime.

I doubt it if I'll ever think of household chores as beautiful bouquets of roses, but who knows? When mopping the floor -- even when done for one's family -- gets to feel too much like drudgery, one's imagination can actually save the day and issue reminders that go beyond "This, too, shall pass." Reminders such as "We can do no great things; only small things with great love." And how can that not make a mop, a dirty dish or a sponge look like a challenge worth conquering (and a conquerable challenge at that)?


Ishmael Fischer Ahab said...

Ah...washing dishes. I hate washing dishes and when we were young, me and my brother usually fight when it comes to this chore.

Well, this chore is boring because it entails you to stand while scrubbing plates, glass, pans, pots, spoons, etc. What is more irksome is when the plates are too greasy.

When I am tasked to do this, my usual recourse is to let my imagination roam. So, instead of washing dishes, I am at the outside world fighting pirates and soldiers. However, isn't that a sort of escapism?

R.O. said...

whoa why havent i thought of this topic. you can make a book with topics like this!

tampadad said...

We use a dishwasher at home because of the post washing heating sanitizer which kills most bacteria and viruses, but even still, plates and utelsils are better off hand scrubbed with hot water to remove stubborn debris. Having 4 kids at home is not easy for a working mother and the sink seems to be full of clutter most of the time. A couple of years ago, I decided to offer this chore up as a birthday present to my wife, and ever since then, I renew the present come birthday card time, and then add another little chore to it too. Now I thiink of my wife most of the time when doing this chore.

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