Time, Energy, and Hands


It’s Friday afternoon and there have been dirty dishes in the sink in all week long. These dirty dishes have taunted me as I ran in and out of the house all week. In from work, out for small group. In from work, out for a movie premier. In from work, out to a fictional world (via the pages of a book) while tucked in bed with a cup of tea. I just haven’t been able to shake these dishes in the sink.

I naively hoped that I would come home one day to find them cleaned and the sink cleared due to my mother’s impatience but, no dice on that front. She was also too busy running around to conquer those pesky, old food-encrusted dishes. So there they sat – getting grosser and grosser with each passing day.

There’s something about washing dishes, especially other people’s dishes that is unreasonably disturbing to me. And no, we don’t use our dishwasher for whatever reason. Either due to the strong belief in hard work that runs through my mother’s Nigerian blooded veins, the stubborn attitude that we can accomplish something ourselves better than someone else (or some machine) can, the strong frugal mindset of my Nigerian-blooded mother (who refuses to buy both dishwasher detergent and normal dish soap), or it’s just a cause of a habit – and laziness since we use the dishwasher as additional drying space. Who knows the reasons?

Either way, the dishes have gotten accustomed to being hand washed. Basically, what I’m saying is that the dishes in my house are spoiled. Given the royal treatment, you could say. But, don’t worry! They learn to be humble because consequently, they’ve had to get used to sitting in the sink until my hands are ready to spend a decent amount of time scrubbing away under water. Lathering, scrubbing, rinsing, and lathering and scrubbing and rinsing again. During the cyclical course of events, these hands sacrifice their own moisture and dehydrate their skin in an attempt to wash the contents of the sink clean.

A sacrifice is made. To wash the dishes clean and scrub away the hardened food that had found a new home on the dirty dish – time was spent, hands were soaked dry, energy was exerted.

I can’t help but think of the trials of single motherhood during this act of washing the dishes. Homemaking is real work. It takes time, energy, and strong able hands. It’s not something to be dismissed. It’s something that others can deem you successful or inadequate at. An unmade home is often the subject of ridicule and judgment but in order to make a home, you must take the time, energy, and handiwork to do so. You have to take that effort away from something else. Able hands that could be cleaning out an old house to be re-sold, hands that could be preparing dinner for the family, hands that could be calculating dividends for a business deal, hands that could be typing up an email – or a story – on the computer.

What did your hands do this week? How was your energy and time spent? I don’t mean to value any use of time, energy, or hands over another. They are all work and they are all used for a desired outcome. May I just suggest that you’re using yours for your highest desired outcome. Often times, it’s not that one act is bad and another is good. More often, we simply have to decide what is best. What feeds our soul? Which success is the most fulfilling?

In order to succeed at one thing, we must fail at something else. Whether you’re failing by not trying at all or failing by putting in that much less effort because the effort was exerted into something else.  You only have a finite amount to use, after all. No one holds all of the knowledge, resources, or energy. We must simply be selective with the things in our life that deserve our effort.

Don’t be afraid to be choosy.

Have you had any difficulty deciding how best to use your energy? Recently felt like one thing in your life was taking over time you wanted to spend on something else? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!


One thought on “Time, Energy, and Hands

  1. nono says:

    One of my former flatmates refused to wash has dishes for the whole week. It was disgusting and annoying but once you clean someone’s dishes, you are doomed. After that time he threw it away… Together with all tea spoons…

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