“There Are Always Better Things To Do Than The Dishes”

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while.  It really hit home when Jon had his surgery and I was doing just about everything that needed to be done around the house and farm as well as taking care of Jon.  It seemed no matter how many times I washed the dishes, the sink was always full of them.

It was around that time that I was also reading All The Frequent Troubles of Our Days.  The subject of this book doesn’t compare to my complaints about the dishes. Or anything else in my life.   It’s the story of Mildred Harnack, an American woman who lived in Germany and led a resistance group against the Nazis.

I have to admit I put the book down when Mildred got arrested.  Right now (or maybe ever) I don’t feel up to reading about the details of her imprisonment and execution by the Nazis.

Even before she became involved with the Resistance, Mildred was an unusual and Independent woman.  The book was written by Harnack’s great-great-niece,  Rebecca Donner.  Harnack was a writer, translator, lecturer, and teacher.  And not at all interested in being domestic. Donner writes about how Mildred would let the dishes “accumulate… for days before she notices them, a teetering tower of plates ad cups and cutlery.”   “There are always better things to do than the dishes.” 

Even when Mildred had become a spy for the Resistance, her husband, who was also a spy for the Resistance, complained that she didn’t keep the house clean.

Although I can’t compare my life to Mildred Harnaks, I do find it kind of incredible that I can relate to her in this way.  Of course, it’s about more than just the dishes. It’s the idea of the gender roles we’re supposed to fit into.  And as far as we’ve come, so many of us still find ourselves either being expected by others, or by ourselves to fit into them.

I’m fortunate in my relationship with Jon.  From the beginning he never expected me to do the cooking and cleaning. But I still have a hard time walking past a sink full of dishes as I head off to work in the morning.

I’m working on it though.

After making the drawing in pencil, I drew it with my sewing machine.   I used the drawing as a reference as I sewed.

I’m just about done with this.  I was thinking of filling in the letters so they stand out more.  I was also thinking it would make a good magnet.

21 thoughts on ““There Are Always Better Things To Do Than The Dishes”

  1. PLEASE make this into a magnet! I sometimes don’t do my dishes for a month (or any other cleaning, for that matter).

  2. Excellent. My philosophy precisely. I especially enjoyed the sentence “accumulates for days before noticing”.
    The cat must have a clean dish however, so I tell my sister “I wash dishes everyday- just not All the dishes”
    I’m trying to make them less the bane of my existence- if you make magnets you’re guaranteed a sale here!

  3. My husband and I have been married 54+ years. He has always liked to cook but before we retired in ’06 I did the grocery shopping and most of the cooking , except for holidays, because of his work schedule. After he retired he started doing the grocery and the cooking which I was glad to give up. We both vacuum and do cleaning. However, I do the laundry because I’m particular about what gets washed with what. If either one of us wants something ironed we do our own. If something needs sewing, he’s likely to do that. His mother taught him and I never had home-ec in any of the schools I attended. (I later made myself some maternity clothes after taking a sewing class but never kept at it.)

  4. My wife, thankfully, cooks and is good at it though its not her favorite thing to do.
    I always do the dishes and clean the kitchen afterward. It is the least I can do to support her in the kitchen.
    Saturdays, I make us a big breakfast while she watches a hallmark movie and I still do the dishes/clean the kitchen.
    I’d be all over that magnet if you go that way!

    Keith

  5. This is so clever, Maria. The magnet sounds great. I might have a way to change your approach to dishes, though. My craft friend and I discovered that creative design ideas came to us through water. Washing dishes, showering etc. let the ideas “flow.” We had fresh ideas and clean dishes. Win, win.

  6. I love this one! I am now 82 years old, the mother of 3 sons, and grandmother of 3 granddaughters. Ohhhhhhh the dishes I have washed! I am a widow now and use more paper plates!❤️

  7. I never minded doing dishes as long as I could talk on the phone while doing so. With the advent of the dishwasher and social media the days of chatting on phone while doing dishes have rode into the sunset, so I just wash the dirty dishes and daydream of the many conversations had while cleaning the kitchen. I love the magnet idea!!!

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