Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Keeping Your Cool

A Tale of Two Piles of Dishes

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


The other day, I woke up to this mess and smiled. Staring at piles of dirty dishes threatening to engulf the whole of the kitchen felt like a paint roller dripping sunny warmth and goodness had just rolled me up one side and down the other.

These piles of mess were the remnants of the fun we'd had the night before when some of our favorite people on the planet had been 'round to eat, drink, and be merry with us. There'd been conversation, head nodding, storytelling, laughter, reminiscing, bonding; all the good stuff.

As I stared at all these dishes to do and felt immense gratitude for having cause to have dirtied them and left them strewn everywhere to tend to later, something dawned on me...

Our kitchen nearly always looks like this at the hands of my family. And I'm never grateful for it.

We've two teens and between the four of us, I seem to be the only one who feels the need to do the dishes in a timely manner or even at all.

So on the daily, dirty dishes get stacked and stacked until I succumb to either handling them or forcefully delegating. This cycle never ends and our counters and sink are almost never clear and clean. For the record, my husband does more than his fair share, just not always in my preferred timing, so I'm often the Russian judge marking him down for his technical error. I'm super charming like that.

All this feels like the movie Groundhog Day and makes me more than a little grouchy because I can often relax in our home only when it's clean and tidy.

Until this particular morning when it dawned on me, as I stood there staring at an hour's worth of work and felt happy for it....what's the difference, exactly?

The reason I was approaching this chore as a welcome task on this day is it meant we'd had a lovely evening with our beyond lovely friends and time with them is worth any amount of clean up in the kitchen.

So why don't I feel this way when it's my family making the mess? Aren't they worth it too, so much more than friends even? Aren't they my people? MY HEART? Yes, and yes! So what the heck is wrong with me, why do I view different piles of dirty dishes so differently?

Because I'm human, and I'm a mom and a wife and I work both outside the home and in it and I'm constantly striving to do all the things so that I can FINALLY SIT DOWN AND RELAX. And it feels like my family works against me in it all or at least makes me work harder than I want to.

It's felt that way until this dawning: my house is a constant mess because I have three people I love dearly and would lay down my life for without hesitation who dirty it up each day.

For that blessing, I'll wash hundreds of dirty dishes and wipe thousands of messy counters a million times over at being able to say I've still the three people I love most here with me trashing the kitchen. Because not having the three of them around to make a mess? That is unthinkable.

And that's how I'll be able to walk right past the kitchen when it looks like this at their hands and ease right on into relaxing anyway. My three, they're here with me, and that's more calming and relaxing than a clean kitchen will ever be.

Written by: Jodie Utter ~ For more of this sort of imperfect muddling through, please join me at Utter Imperfection

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.