DishPan Hands: A Love Story

One morning, years ago, my fiance and I were driving on our way to look at wedding bands. I looked down at my bumpy knuckles and calloused palms while sitting beside him in the car.  I grimaced.

“You’re marrying a girl with kind-of burly hands,” I sighed.  He looked over at them and smiled.

“I’ve got a girl with hands that can do cool stuff!”  He replied.  This guy knew how to speak my language, even while we were still relatively new to each other.

This past weekend we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.  We are doing more cool stuff now than we ever thought possible.  Much of it is cloaked under the guise of “the drudgery of raising a young family.”  But the truth is: we are building our lives together, which is some very, very cool stuff.  We have lost each other and found each other throughout the years.  We have both worked hard at cutting through the tangled vines of our own hang-ups and selfishness.  This weekend, we celebrated finding each other again.

But let’s focus on the real story here: my hands.  They began already crazy-looking.  Call it a mixture of my mother’s genes, and a former life as a gymnast and rock-climber.  But I have never had the slender, elegant hands of a model.  When I become obscenely famous, you can bet I will have a professional do all my hand stunts and close-ups.

But in all of their adventures one thing my hand’s never much did was the dishes.  Girl, that was a new frontier altogether.

Now I look down at them, and realize: Not only have we have crossed that frontier, but we have cleared brush, felled logs, and built a working homestead upon it.

Which got me thinking:  Why do I DO so many dishes now?  I could ask that about laundry, cooking, and trips to the pediatrician, but focus people, FOCUS!

Welp, there seems to be a gaggle of people that I send into the world every morning, who keep coming back every evening.  Hungry.  So I cook.  And I serve my food atop and within re-usable apperati, which then need to be washed.

But why?  Because I don’t want to live in squalor and sicken my people with filthy utensils.

But why?  Because they’re my family.

But why?  Because I WANT them:  I wanted my children, and before that, I wanted my husband.  I wanted him so much it hurt to be apart from him.  So we up and got married – in a forever kind of way.

I remember as a small child looking up at my mother doing dishes at the sink, with a gigantic pump bottle of lotion stationed in the window, beside the aloe vera plant.  I now understand why.  I am slowly collecting bottles and tubes of lotion in every room of my house, plus three in the car.  I own pairs of purple dish gloves, but I use it half of the time.  Sometimes, there’s no time for gloves.  Sometimes, these dishpan hands take the brunt.

My way isn’t one of dishpan hands.  Just like my husband’s way isn’t one of waking before the sun all week long.  But we have OUR way.  It’s a way of many dishes, many work hours, and the fun, comforting company of each other.

I didn’t do the dishes much before my husband.  Now that we have hungry hungry hippos to feed, I do them constantly.

I look down at my sad, irritated, dry hands, and read them like a love story.  A love story that spends itself in the pursuit of the other, that doesn’t preserve itself “just in case” things don’t work out.   A love story that leaves it all on the field, where our goal is to look back on our used-up bodies at the end of our lives, and sigh with satisfaction at a life well-spent on love.