Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Day I Learned to Not Resent Doing Dishes

Housekeeping is not my strongest suit.  I love being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom--but housekeeping is a struggle for me.

Dishes, in particular, have been my least favorite task. (One of the problems is that I love to cook, but make a big mess doing so.)  Jeremy and I have had a loose agreement since getting married that dishes were going to be "his job".   The problem is--dishes aren't really his strong point either.

Me, in an apron.  (For making, not cleaning!)
I remember one time early in our marriage my dad came to visit us in our 7 foot high basement apartment with one small sink in the kitchen, and (if my memory is correct) he literally spent multiple days doing dishes to get us caught up.  (Without a hint of disappointment in me--which was the greater service?)  And over the years there have been multiple occasions where a good friend would help me work on dishes when she came over to hang out.

The thing is, I always felt like dishes were my responsibility.  So in the same breath as asking Jeremy to take care of the dishes I would claim responsibility for them.  Because "everyone knows that dishes are a woman's job."  Jeremy was not saying this, nor did he believe it, but I was telling myself it.  So I would sulk and moan over the dishes, and resent the time I spent working on them.

Until one night, while in the midst of a pile of dishes I was pondering my resentful feelings and pondering my responsibilities in our home and the words of The Proclamation to the World on the Family came to my mind:

"Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."

That's what it says.  It doesn't say, 'and that means women do all the housework and change all the poopy baby diapers.'  In fact in terms of physically caring for our households the proclamation speaks of both parents:

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." 

And further notes to do so in unity and equality:

"In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

And it hit me and sunk in--Doing the dishes is not my "responsibility" as the woman in the home.  It's just not.  And for anyone that thinks, from a cultural standpoint--as I used to--that "yeah, but it really is," is wrong.

When I die and stand before the judgement bar, I will not be asked if I faithfully washed all my family's dishes.  

That moment changed my outlook on doing dishes.   I no longer work on dishes resenting the cultural mandate that it is my responsibility.  I know it is not my responsibility, and when I work on the dishes, it is as a service to my family.  It's as a service to my husband.  It is as an opportunity for me to help make our home the environment we want for our family, but it is not because dishes are the "woman's job".  

Dishes are still "Jeremy's job", but since that day I've chosen to do this dishes much more frequently than before.  I feel a greater sense of satisfaction when I work on the dishes.  And I'm grateful for the knowledge of what my responsibilities as a woman and a mother truly are.  

It's the twentieth anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and there's no denying that the topics were revelatory for this current issues of this generation, and I believe the doctrines were as well.

2 comments:

Jennifer Wayland said...

I usually enjoy doing dishes and loved when I could come help and chat! I miss that! Happy you found sanity in it! Wish I could do the same with Laundry! I don't feel like its my womanly duety but I do dispise laubdry, it never ends!! Even more reason to join the nicest colony. Ha-ha.

Jennifer Wayland said...

I usually enjoy doing dishes and loved when I could come help and chat! I miss that! Happy you found sanity in it! Wish I could do the same with Laundry! I don't feel like its my womanly duety but I do dispise laubdry, it never ends!! Even more reason to join the nicest colony. Ha-ha.

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