Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Cups Runneth Over

Hand-washing the dishes has changed how I do things lately. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and some thoughtful planning goes a long way in increasing efficiency. Like life!

When our dishwasher first broke, I was pretty distressed. I hadn't hand washed a dish in a while, was out of practice, and resented that it was MY job to wash the dishes when I'm not the one using every single cup in the house every single day. Then, I remembered that I'm 32 years old, and getting pissy over who does the dishes is a little childish, especially when the compulsive cup user does a lot of stuff for me with minimal complaint. So, I started doing the dishes without complaining. Without stomping or clanging things extra loudly (which, hey, not a good idea when you're migraining, anyway) or grumbling or feeling like I was being forced into doing something for which I would never be repaid. I just washed the dishes. Like a grownup. Go me.

And I made a routine out of it. With the dishwasher, filling and running it depended entirely on how many, and which, dishes we had used. It's not the same with hand washing at all, and that threw me at first, as silly as it sounds. Instead of waiting for the sink to fill, which was about when the dishwasher would be full, I now wash the dishes once or twice a day, regardless of how many there are. If I let it go longer than that, then I have to wash them in shifts because I can't stand there more than half an hour without some repercussions.

But even after I got my rhythm, it was a rare day that I could get all of the dishes done and on the drying rack in one shot. Even saving space as well as I could, I'd often fill the dish rack before I was even halfway done emptying the sink. I could have called over the Excessive Cup User* to do some drying and putting away while I finished the washing, and sometimes I did, but usually he wasn't available and I'd have to stop washing and switch to drying and putting away and then back again to washing, which, NO. Washing dishes (standing, holding and not dropping, soaping, inspecting for particles, leaning) and putting them away (reaching and bending) are very different head triggers and can NOT be done together because that is a recipe for pain. I need a sit to reset everything in between, or better yet, I do one and someone else does the other.

So, the dishes were never really DONE done, for a few months there. I might be able to get all the dishes clean, but I just couldn't put them away for a day. Or I'd have most of them done but would have to stop because migraine symptoms were flaring. Learning how to manage the dishes with chronic migraines is a lesson in patience, in compromise and in acceptance.

Other life lessons I've learned from my dirty dishes: Great feats can be accomplished step by plodding step, working with limitations can still produce results, and not everything has to be done right now. These lessons are good for me, sometimes I really need to let go of my expectations.

But a happy solution to my dishwashing dilemma was found a few weeks ago when my mom cleaned out some old storage in their house and discovered TWO dish racks, both bigger than the one I had. I pretty much pounced on top of them and growled at anyone who looked at my preciouses, then ran home with them and put one on either side of the sink and did a dance of glee.

I can almost always get all of the dishes done in one standing now (it's unfortunately not a sitting), even if I leave them for a day. Which I did yesterday. Which is why I'm typing up this ode to dish racks because I am TIRED now, y'all, but all of my dishes are clean!

*If you've seen the last Harry Potter movie, imagine my dirty cup problem to be reminiscent of that certain scene in the vault. Shudder.