A washboard and a wood-burning oven
are things I don’t have.
A few months ago
the little ones were sick, for weeks,
and I was exhausted, but I didn’t cry.
Then my washing machine fell apart inside and quit spinning.
But I didn’t cry; I used every stitch of fabric in the house
before packing the back of our van
full with dirty clothes
blankets, sheets, pillow cases,
towels, rags, more towels, and more rags
and driving to the laundromat.
When I made back to the house,
lugged in baskets filled with clean laundry,
wiped noses and gave hugs,
the oven broke. I cried.
I actually felt that if I had a washboard
and a wood burning oven
I could have kept it together. Maybe so.
The other day my dishwasher stopped running
and the water sat in the bottom.
I filled the sink with hot soapy water
and lined the counters with towels
and set to work.
The most fascinating thing happened:
contentment came to me as I stood at the sink.
I couldn’t be rushed here.
I could not force myself
to hurry through this task
like I could hurriedly stuff the washer full of
pajamas, t-shirts, and shorts,
and frantically line the dishwasher racks with
plates, bowls, and glasses
and move on to the next thing.
I spent the following few weeks
letting dirty dishes collect in the sink
throughout the day,
washing them in the morning.
Sometimes I would even stand there and dry them.
And the kids would run through the kitchen,
stop by my legs for a quick hug,
and keep going because everything was okay.
My world didn’t end, in fact, I found a whole new one.
My relationship to time has changed –
I don’t rush myself to get things done,
but sort of let the doing happen –
all because the control panel on my dishwasher burned up.