Lessons from a Dead Dishwasher

Lessons from a Dead Dishwasher

As a family of 6, with two teenagers and two tweens who are nearly always eating at home, and as a family who cooks most of our food from scratch, we go through a lot of dishes in a day. It takes at least three loads a day for the dishwasher to keep up.

It’s a good thing, really. it means that we always have something for someone to eat. It means we’re a family, living life together.

But despite how hard it works for us, I’ve always thought of a dishwasher as a luxury item. After all, we can always just wash dishes by hand, right?  After all we have before, when the kids were little and when our family was smaller. And after all, we have to rinse the dishes anyway before loading up the dishwasher, surely washing them isn’t that much more work.

Well, in late October, just before Halloween, my dishwasher finally gave up and gave me an opportunity to test my theory.  The poor machine had put in it’s time. It was older when we bought our house six years ago, but it worked fine. The front cover was missing, the upper rack was held together with zip-ties, and it was missing more than a few of it’s dish prongs. But It was ours and it worked for what we needed.

But now, it is no more.

We didn’t have funds to replace it, but I wasn’t worried. We have plenty of hands here to wash with. And the now de-funct dishwasher works great as a drying rack.

Hand washing dishes brought back memories – of my grandmother’s house, of an article a writing student of mine once wrote about how she prayed over her family as she hand washed her dishes, of our tenants in California who were so thrilled to get a dishwasher because they had never in over 40 years ever had one.

The first few weeks of handwashing dishes were romantic, soothing, fun even. (did I really say that?). But in the last 10 days of sickness, and busy-ness, I have come to realize that in our busy lives, a dishwasher is more than just a luxury, it’s a workhorse. It’s a friend. It’s a kitchen servant of old.

It seems I am never caught up on dishes anymore, not even close. Either I need to slow down my life so that I have a couple hours a day to wash dishes, or I need to reinvest in another dishwasher.

After all, if I look at the numbers, I’m starting to think that the $500 for a machine that will take care of me for the next 10 years isn’t such a luxury afterall. That’s only $50/year. And $50 a year to keep up on dishes is beginning to sound a lot like a bargain. :)

So for Christmas, guess what I’m asking for :)  Until then, you’ll find me in the kitchen, washing dishes.

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