November, 1980. Dinner at my parent’s house. My eldest brother was married by then, and I wasn’t even engaged yet. Among her many talents, my Mom can cook. The food was never the drawback of having dinner in her home, it was her lack of a dishwasher.
She would never consider getting a dishwasher because her kitchen is small and to put one in would mean to lose cabinet space. She finally relented last month and got one, not because she changed her opinion, but because everything she does to the house now is with an eye toward resale value. She didn’t do it to make her life easier; she did it for her children to make our lives easier when she’s gone. It’s Morbid Home Improvement, but that’s what Moms do.
I asked her last week how she likes the dishwasher, and of course, she won’t use it. Like I shouldn’t have seen that coming.
Back to 1980. My lovely and fabulous sister-in-law, Nancy, was pregnant with the first grandchild on my side of the family. When it came time to do the dishes, which Nancy and I got stuck with every holiday because tryptophan only seems to affect the men in our family. After a few minutes, I noticed Nancy wasn’t in the kitchen. My Mom said she didn’t have to that year because she was pregnant. OK by me. Not only was she pregnant, she was incredibly pregnant and would give birth in about a week.
Fast forward to Christmas, 1982. I was married by then and I was pregnant. No dishes in my future for that holiday, I figured. But after dinner, my Mom called me, and not Nancy, into the kitchen. I needed an explanation for that. I had the Golden Ticket this time. I asked her why I, who was pregnant, and Nancy, who wasn’t, still had to do dishes. “She has a child now.”
Oh, I see how this goes. I am NEVER gonna beat her at this game. My Mom did have a point. I was barely pregnant, had only found out I was weeks before and she did have a rambunctious two-year-old.
But I could see salvation coming. By next Thanksgiving, not only would I have a child, I would have a newborn. Beat that with a stick, Nancy!
Thanksgiving, 1983. Surely my three-month-old will trump her three-year-old. But of course not. Nancy was pregnant again by then.
I learned two things that day. 1.) to stop competing with Nancy because I can’t win and 2.) it was time to split the holidays between the two of us. We have dishwashers.