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  • I grew up with a dishwasher. I remember the groans my brother and sister and I would let out when it was our turn to empty it. How particular my dad was about how we placed the plates and the cups and silverware so they'd all get cleaned just right. Now raising my own family of four kids without one, my day seems to revolve around the kitchen sink. Kid-friendly plastic bowls with Cheerios cemented to them in the morning, plates of sandwich crusts and orange peels scattered across the counter at lunch, and a combination of tomato-sauce-picked-over-salad-untouched-something-or-other at dinner.

    On nights when my husband is working, the sink is inevitably overflowing with the remains of four little ones eating non-stop all day. Bedtime rolls around and the kitchen beckons. Walking past the leaning tower of dishes is the only way to the sanctuary of my couch where I can kick my feet up after trying to keep their sweet little mouths fed and free of fighting 'til sundown. I struggle between the guilt of walking quickly by and the desire for a clean sink at least a minute during my day.

    Most nights I'm good. I pick out a show on Netflix or a favorite podcast to keep me company. I pick out a dish rag and squirt on the lavender-scented biodegradable soap I've worked so hard to convince my husband to buy. Rinse and sort the cups, plates, bowls, silverware, and pots and pans. Wash them from cleanest to dirtiest. Wipe my soggy fingers on my apron to pause my phone and usher one of the kids back to bed. Turn my show and the water back on. Stack them all like Jenga pieces in the dish rack to dry. Might as well wipe the counters and sweep the floor while I'm at it.

    Finally loosen the apron ties behind my back and collapse on the couch. The clock tells me it's late. Unwind or get to bed? The kids can always get themselves cereal in the morning.
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