Last week my life changed - I got something I have been waiting years for - a dishwasher.
Now you might think I am exaggerating when I say that this was a life changing event - or maybe you think my life is full of trivial events for this to be categorised as life changing. Well, getting married and the birth of my children were life changing events, and yes there is no comparison in importance between my family and my dishwasher - but in terms of quality of life, getting a dishwasher is definitely up there in the top 10.
I was, I think, spending an average of one hour a day washing dishes - but it's not just extra time I gain with a dishwasher - it's peace. Eating my dinner is now so much more relaxing knowing that I don't have to wash a pile of dishes at the end of it - which improves my digestion, which improves my health. And the kitchen is now so much tidier without a pile of dishes either waiting to be washed next to the sink, or in the sink, or drying on the draining board. I feel more organised - making the dinner is more enjoyable - and all the dishes are so much cleaner - not that I was a bad dishwasher, but I can't compete with a machine.
As we get older and we can gradually afford the luxuries of life, let us not forget what it was like to struggle. I remember our first family car - it was actually given to us so that the owner wouldn't have to pay to scrap it. It was a white Fiat Panda with holes in the door because of the rust - which we taped up with parcel tape! There was a hole in the water pipe which resulted in the hot air blower not working after 15 minutes, once all the water had drained (at least I think that was what the problem was). I remember driving it on what should have been a 4 hour journey to visit my family at Christmas - it took us 8.5 hours. We were beeped in the slow lane of the motorway because we were driving too slow. Driving up hills we would have to stop several times. On the return trip it was minus 4 degrees outside, and with the heater broken and the holes in the doors getting larger, we ended up with hypothermia. We considered not going home at all but driving straight to casualty - it took us hours to defrost - no joke - we spent the night huddled up in duvets, drinking lots of hot drinks to stop the shivering. When we got our next car, a brand new Daewoo Matiz - we felt elated. We really enjoyed driving up North the next Christmas, beeping at all the slow cars on the motorway! But now we have two cars and my husband drives a much larger car - he wonders how he ever managed to drive the Matiz and jokes at when he took his driving test in it - with two large men in the car, he was loosing points for going too slow, even though he had his foot to the floor.
Gradually life's luxuries creep in, and bit by bit we start to forget what it's like to struggle. I try to keep those images of more difficult times big in my memory - the energy I can draw from them is invaluable. I need to remember that boredom, soggy sleeves, miserable rainy outlook, wondering if my life of drudgery would ever end. Like I need to remember that summer job cycling to work in the early hours of the morning in the rain, to pack vegetables all day long, with painful blisters up my arms due to a reaction from the pesticides, and the time I was struggling to buy nappies and baby food, and the time a family member was having life-saving surgery, and the time I had debt hanging over my head for the first time in my life, and that humiliating interview, and the time I failed - really hard times, that one would sooner forget - but it is a wiser man that chooses to remember these times and to draw deeply from their experiences. Remember that feeling when you are really ill, and would do anything just to feel no pain, to be in good health once again? What a shame that when the pain subsides and the good health returns, we so easily forget how wonderful it is.
Just a little word of advice for any of you out there wondering if you really need a dishwasher (or whether your wife does) - if you can afford one, stop punishing yourself/wife and go buy one - squeeze it in to your kitchen somewhere, even if it means loosing valuable cupboard space - the benefits are huge - don't believe these people who say they don't make a difference - if you are the sole dishwasher in your house, and spend time cooking proper meals (not living off cardboard trays that you shove into the microwave) a dishwasher really does make a difference. The time to load and clear a dishwasher is minimal compared to the time spent washing, so what are you waiting for?
Now finding a reliable plumber to install the dishwasher....that's another story!