I have a confession to make.
I do not own a dishwasher.
I guess that this is not very common these days, but to me it is normal. In all of my adult life I have only had one (secondhand, portable) dishwasher. It was messy and sprayed water all over the kitchen. It was cumbersome and loud. I used its butcher block top for extra counter space for a while and stored my Tupperware cake keeper in it, but I think I used it less than a dozen times.
A conversation that I had recently with an acquaintance went something like this:
She “I could not LIVE without a dishwasher.”
Me “Never really wanted one.”
She (horrified gasp) “That is unimaginable!”
By the tone of her reaction you would have thought that I had said that I preferred an outhouse to indoor plumbing! It is true, though. In my 30+ years up here on the hill I have wanted many things…a hot tub, a sidewalk, even a bathtub for a time (but that’s another story), but a dishwasher is not one of them.
Another friend whose own dishwasher broke down right before the Thanksgiving holiday one year told me that she couldn’t possibly host the festivities without one. To her the dishwasher was as important as the oven itself!
Don’t get me wrong – when I was a teenager and washing the dishes was a chore that had to be accomplished before I could slip away to be with friends, I hated the job. I would do anything to get out of it, including trickery and deceit. I would make promises to my siblings that I never intended to keep so that they would relieve me of the job, and I was quite often successful.
When my own children were growing up washing the dishes and folding the clothes were the two main chores that they had to do each day. They will tell you that if I came home to a sink full of dirty dishes there would be much commotion. It is true that when I was exhausted from a long day at the office and needed the sink for meal preparation, I did not relish the task.
The kitchen sink is the heart of our home. Each member of our family has spent a significant amount of time in front of it. We’ve bathed our children (and now our grandchild) there, pulled up chairs so that they could help us and taught them to do it on their own. Thousands of basins of soapy water have been drawn there. My memories contain hours of telephone conversations had while scrubbing and rinsing and drying, watching the seasons pass by through the windows that are situated just above it. Gossip was shared, tears were shed, good news was revealed and bad news received – if only those walls could talk! Long conversations had while cleaning up after large family gatherings – holidays, reunions, graduation parties and even a rehearsal dinner brought friends and family members together long after the meals were finished and the table was cleared.
I remember my mother standing at my sink washing the dishes, even as her health began to fail. She would bend from the waist, leaning on her elbows as she cleaned each plate and glass and pot. She taught my sister and me that it was rude to leave someone’s kitchen without offering to help with the dishes, and I know that both of us feel the same way to this day. Sometimes when I am at the sink by myself I catch myself standing the same way she did as my back begins to ache from a long day of preparation and celebration. I smile to myself remembering how important this task was to her.
I would love to have my big country kitchen remodeled. I have thought many times about how I would arrange things, and what kind of cupboards and flooring I might have. I have added marble counter tops, farmhouse sinks and tile floor coverings to my Pinterest boards, dreaming of how beautiful it might be. The one thing that I never make room for in my imagination, though, is the dishwasher. To me it is just unnecessary.
Think of all of those missed opportunities for memory making….