I knew it was coming. Things hadn't been right for a while. I should have paid attention to the clues.
The end came swiftly -- a gurgle and then silence. The dishwasher was dead.
I slowly opened the door and peeked inside.
There was an entire load of unwashed dishes looking back at me. Not just a regular load, an every-inch-of-space-is-filled kind of load. The kind of load that I kept opening the door right after starting the dishwasher to add stuff -- a forgotten water bottle, the recyclable containers from a neglected lunch bag. All crammed in.
"No. Don't leave me," I cried. "We had so much fun together. You know. You washing the dishes and me not washing the dishes."
At this point it is probably important to point out my penchant for recycling. I blame the fourth-grade Eco Kids Club. All of those eco-friendly activities had me re-evaluating my own recycling practices. I decided to forego the plastic bags and try to pack only recyclable containers in school lunches. During Eco Week I even packed a cloth napkin.
"That was really embarrassing," my daughter reminded me.
As my friend likes to say, "If our children will one day be in therapy, we might as well give them something good to complain about."
Which brings me to my favorite tool of the trade -- an empty, bright yellow, "I can't believe it's not butter" container. They are the perfect size for snacks and I can easily fit three of those things into the lunch bag.
"The lady who works in the cafeteria asked me why I was eating butter for lunch," my daughter said after school one day.
"Did you tell her to read the container," I said. "It says, I can't believe it's NOT butter."
My daughter was not amused.
"I told her my mom likes to recycle," she said, sighing under the burden of living with a recycling mother.
She got her revenge the day the dishwasher died.
Multiply those yellow containers times five days a week and we're up to at least 15 of them in the dishwasher. (My older daughter drew the line in middle school and refused to take the tubs any more.) Add in sandwich containers, plus small round snack containers and the entire dishwasher is filled with lunch supplies, water bottles, plates, silverware, mugs and a million other things. It took forever to wash everything by hand.
Just as I finished the last cup, the rest of my family returned home for dinner.
"You can have whatever you want as long as you share one plate and eat with your fingers," I said.
I have shelved my beloved (not) butter containers for now. At least until I get a new dishwasher. Then we're back in business.