Doing The Dishes

The Next Family

By: Brandy Black

Doin the dishes

I was washing the dishes today because we don’t have a dishwasher, which I have to say I very much resent. It’s not from lack of effort on our part. When I was pregnant I had 3 people come to the house and tell me that they couldn’t install a dishwasher in our kitchen unless we tore out the counter tops and brought them up 2 inches higher. I didn’t believe the first guy, I got even angrier with the second, and by the time the third one said “We just can’t do it, even with the smallest dishwasher on the market”, I cried. Susan still doesn’t believe it and will occasionally say, “I really gotta call someone about that”.

Now that I’m resigned to having dry hands for the rest of my life, I take turns doing the dishes with Susan. Tonight, I got a chuckle as I rinsed our blue dinner plate while thinking about the therapist that Susan and I went to this summer. I can’t quite remember the context of the topic but she told us that doing dishes is a mother’s only time to herself and we should give each other this time. Is she fucking crazy? Perhaps we should invite her over for some “alone time” in our dimly lit kitchen, as we’re clearly not appreciating our dirty dishes.

Ironically, tonight I caught myself enjoying my alone time- me and my blue plate kicking back thinking.

I was daydreaming about how much a relationship changes from inception. Wow almost 13 years ago Susan and I started dating. We were IN LOVE. We’d make out in the rain in my car for hours. There was no good reason why we didn’t find our way into my apartment, I guess we couldn’t wait that long. We were possessive and jealous for all the right reasons. If I may say so, we were cute.

5 years later we got engaged and that brought another layer of romance to the relationship. I remember the night I realized that I would have to worry about her for the rest of my life. Worry in the way that made my stomach ache and flutter. Worry that she is happy and healthy and will drive herself home safely to me every night. This was a love that I hadn’t experienced before. This love hurt.

Then our first purchase of a home together- this came simultaneous with our wedding. All very sweet and romantic in the beginning until I started to realize that I was about to spend the rest of my life with this person and with that comes a lifetime full of habits to which I was not accustomed. Some of these habits I will later adopt, others I will forever hate. This realization spun me into a depression- I have just lost all sense of self and may never get it back. I began to analyze and nit-pick until something that, objectively speaking, was very minor, was now put under a microscope and might be- in my mind- the cause for divorce. This dissipated when I labeled it as fear of the unknown journey that we as a pair were embarking on. Once this realization was made, I jumped willingly into being an ideal wife. My priorities slowly shifted to striving to throw an entertaining dinner party and attempting to master a good dish (still haven’t done that). The late nights out at bars with single friends became Tivo and cuddling at home.

Then kids come, or in our case the 2 plus year attempt at having a kid. This brought misunderstandings, hurt feelings, lots of TV at night and much less cuddling. We were weak; neither of us could take care of each other and the love changed to survival. Once our daughter finally came, we were ready for love again. The beginning weeks with Sophia were as good as it gets. Romantic fires, giddy conversations from lack of sleep, a re-kindled spark and a complete family, dog included. But then the novelty wore off and we were left with “getting through the day”. Our one goal in common was to keep that baby alive. This was an ominous task that haunted me at night. Conversations were about poop and diapers and feeding times and romance was off our radar. This stage lasted a very long time.

Doing the Dishes
Now I have entered what I like to call the “Doin’ the Dishes” stage – I have become content with life as I know it. The baby is safe, healthy and happy. The dates come more frequently and the conversations are interesting again. Life is complete and all that has brought me to this stage is bundled up in a beautiful loving package that Susan and I can share together once more. The cycle has started over, but with history and years of understanding and love. Layers that, when peeled back, expose the deepest parts of me that no one else could touch.

So maybe this was what our therapist was really getting at all along, ya think? Nah, I think she just likes doing the dishes.

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