Five years ago I stepped into my kitchen to grab a cup of coffee before the kids came home from school and was greeted with a flood of almost biblical proportions.
My seven-year-old dishwasher was the cause. Once it was declared officially dead a few days later, Joe and I went out and bought a new one. Little did I know that my brand new, and not inexpensive, appliance would not only become the name of my blog and start my foray into writing, it would also be one of my greatest teachers on taking care of myself.
I fear I may be losing some of you. Let me explain.
Our dishwasher started showing its demonic personality the first night we had it. It worked perfectly when Sears delivered and set it up. About three hours later it started beeping and lighting up like a pinball machine. This would occur at all hours of the day and night. As for washing dishes – one minute it would work, the next it would just stop. No lights. No sounds. Nothing.
This was just the beginning of countless electrical and mechanical problems that have required many, many, repair appointments. As each problem has been diagnosed and repaired, I have found lessons that are relevant to me as a mom of three and wife to one.
The lessons are as follows:
1.) Don’t overload the machine. This seems pretty obvious, but somehow it’s a lesson I never seem to remember with the dishwasher or myself. In trying to get everything done I tend to overload both of us. Unfortunately that means the dishes don’t sparkle, and I become a mom who is in desperate need of a dental cleaning, physical and a haircut.
We both work better with a little more care and attention.
2.) A dishwasher needs to be on level ground to work properly. This was not discovered until the third repair appointment. Apparently our kitchen floor is not level. This meant the dishwasher was not balanced properly.
I too need to be on level ground to be there for my family. This is much easier said than done. I’ve never been good at finding balance.
This was confirmed one day a few years ago. It was an extremely crazy time in our lives. Our daughter, Lizzy, whose special needs have always been complicated, was having a particularly tough time. It seemed we were either at the doctor or hospital every other day.
As if this wasn’t stressful enough we were also dealing with sick parents, jam-packed calendars filled with activities for the boys, and the craziness of the holiday season. Just to add to the fun, I had sheared off the passenger side mirror on my minivan the day before while I was between picking up Peter at preschool and rushing to get Lizzy, who I had just been informed was throwing up, at school.
The following day was Saturday, and Joe took the car to the garage to get it repaired.
I have always prided myself on not really losing it very often with my kids. I accomplish this by going to therapy. With everything going on, I barely had a chance to breathe — not to mention keeping something like a therapy appointment.
While Joe was gone, I was snapping at the kids in a way I just hadn’t before. When Joe called from the garage, Tom asked to talk to him. I overheard him say, “Quick Dad, get home. Mom has flipped.”
Thankfully that made me laugh, and I was able to stay calm long enough for Joe to get home and for me to see my therapist a couple of days later.
3.) If something is wrong, make noise. Unfortunately my family doesn’t have the power to read my mind. If I need help, I have ask for it, which I hate to do. I’m a control freak, and I find it easier to do a job myself rather than explain how to do it.
I’m working on this, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that I’m not the only living person who can make dinner or help Lizzy get dressed.
I love my life, and I love being a mom. But, I’m a mere mortal. I need to do a much better job of caring for myself.
Who would have thought that one possessed dishwasher could teach me so much?