There’s an old notion that says the older you get the more you become your mother. Well, that’s wrong. I’m old, but nothing at all like my mother, dammit. I can’t cook or apply makeup; I can’t wear heels, nor am I graceful or poised or competent. What I am is an unmade bed.
But I have become my mother in one very distinct, very peculiar circumstance. As a dishwasher. Yay, a talent to boast about, right? No.
The dishwashing thing is irksome because it goes against my nature; it’s the antithesis of everything I stand for. See, I lean toward the compulsive end of the spectrum. Neatness counts; cleanliness is next to godliness; there’s a place for everything and everything in its place. Those aren’t clichés, they’re the code I live by. My mother’s code, on the other hand, was ‘meh.’
She had a laid-back, easygoing approach to housekeeping: not exactly a slob, but not opposed to letting things slide, either. The dust would collect, the laundry pile up, the dishes linger in the sink, and yet she’d remain unphased. Cheerful, even. Or maybe unmindful is the appropriate term. Whatever you call it, my mother had a very cavalier attitude toward housework. It’s foreign to me.
When she washed the dishes, her methodology was hurried and explosive. She went about the job with the precision of a depth charge, leaving puddles and suds everywhere. Water dripped and ran down cupboards and across countertops, on the floor and walls. Her clothes were drenched. Surveying the chaos you’d assume the fire department had hosed down a grease fire.
I’d happen along and tut-tut at the carnage. She’d just shake her head and wave away my disdain with an airy composure. It rattled me deeply. And now? I need to wring out my own shirt after doing dishes. I need to mop the counter and cupboards and floor; I need to dry my hair. What the Hell, I wonder? And I think of dear old mom — what a fabulous dame she was.
You know, mothers may carry us for nine months, but we carry them forever.
Happy Mother’s Day!
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