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Losing power, gaining power – How I left a mountain of dirty dishes behind and it felt amazing

dirty dishes...except these ones are cute, and mine were not
Sarah at yourrxforselfcare

Hi, my name is Sarah,

I’m a pharmacist + seasoned struggle bus rider.

I am a full-time mom, spouse, and healthcare professional with a tendency to get stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.

My vision is to empower overextended people to practice self-care and unlock their potential for peace (myself included).

Losing power, gaining power – How I left a mountain of dirty dishes behind and it felt amazing

I’ve shared before that I am a cryer. Good times, hard times, and in between, I’m prone to tearing up, or even straight-up bawling. 

Picture this: It’s an average Tuesday night nearing the end of summer, just days before my son’s first birthday, and I am so.. damn… excited… for him to go to bed. We all have days like this, no shame, parents!

I was so excited because I had grand plans to clean the kitchen and do some baking prep for our majorly downscaled-due-to-COVID birthday party. 

Trying to focus on the little things, I was getting next-level giddy over the details within my control. Even though it would be totally different than we imagined, it was going to be EPIC (totally appropriate level of excitement there). 

The two days’ worth of dirty dishes next to the sink had been calling my name all day. Truth be told, I knew I had to best that mountain of dishes before I could get to the good stuff…the baking! 

dirty dishes...except these ones are cute, and mine were not
dirty dishes…except these ones are cute, and mine were not

This may not seem like a big deal, but as I’ve shared before, I’m not usually known for my tidiness, so I consider it a pretty momentous day when my driving force is propelling me toward doing the dishes. Nothing was going to get in my way that night!

So…baby’s bedtime rolled in, and I was so ready to say goodnight and get cracking. 

In an ironic curveball from the universe (you knew this was coming), just as we started the bedtime song and dance, the power went out. 

“Shit…” we thought, “It’ll come back on in a minute like it always does.” 

This time though, in a super unusual twist for our town, the power didn’t just flicker, but it stayed out. 

Trying to adapt and continue the bedtime routine sans electricity, we all started feeling extra stuffy (and cranky) after just a few minutes in this tiny, hot, dark room at the end of summer. 

Naturally, the lack of air conditioning drove us to open a window, but it didn’t really help our case for bedtime. Voluntarily negating our blackout shades welcomed in the world of sounds and distractions from baby’s sweet sleep needs.

Needless to say, our glorious summer’s late sunsets were not a welcome detail this night. 

We tried a gazillion-and-one things to make this scenario work, and we tried HARD, but soon, an hour had passed but we still had a very-awake almost-toddler, and we were all becoming increasingly cranky and over-tired. 

In desperation, the boys went for a drive, where at least they’d find respite from the heat and humidity, and perhaps the rumbly purr of the car would help lull our little guy to sleep. 

I considered joining them for the drive to keep them company (::cough:: air conditioning ::cough::), but decided to stay home instead, intending to rectify the evening, my kitchen, and the mountain of dirty dishes.

So they drove off, and like any first-time mom who suddenly finds herself alone in the house, I started getting that prickly feeling that I MUST! GET! THINGS! DONE!

At first, I felt absolutely frantic, trying to figure out how to maximize this time alone and GET EVERYTHING DONE. 

My brain was going a mile a minute: I can prep a kitchen for baking in darkness, right? I’ll mix by hand, I’ll be super quick in the fridge, and I can turn on the oven the second the power turns on! 

I honestly debated attempting to wash the dirty dishes with cold water in near darkness (because now, the sun was setting, of course). 

Figuring I’d make the most of the situation, I cracked a summer-flavored sour beer, and attempted to MacGyver my way to finishing the dishes as planned, propping my book lamp and a flashlight near the sink to light my way. 

With my book lamp buttressed against my summer-in-a-can adult beverage, I gazed down into the sink and realized….this… was ridiculous. 

It was hot as hell, I was exhausted, and I was not doing my visual abilities any favors by trying to do this (or anything) in the dark. 

So I pivoted, and I gave up.

Like, no big deal, shrug it off, nonchalantly, gave up and decided the dirty dishes, etc. could wait. 

I could hardly believe it, but…I was able to just roll with it. 

I gave up, and it felt really damn good. I gave up, and it was okay. I gave up and I wasn’t crumbling into a puddle of tears. 

A few months ago, a curveball like this might have sent me into a tailspin (like the time I tried to make pancakes, and instead failed so miserably that I cried into my plan-B cereal bowl). The darkness would not have hidden the mess, but instead, would have amplified the trigger, making it heavier and harder to carry. But this wasn’t the case that night. 

I started feeling…unfamiliar. It was WEIRD to not be stressing about something like this.  

When I realized this, and the stark difference between my reaction this night and literally any other night for the prior 6 months, I almost convinced myself it wasn’t true! But it was true: in this literal darkness, I found my bright side!

Call me crazy, but I felt strong. I felt invincible. Dare I say it, I actually felt elated. 

I may have cried every other day that week, but who cares?! I was rolling with life and able to capitalize on this exception. This one night of strength was stoking the flame of pride that was erupting within me…Not to mention, I HAD bested the dishes, after all, I just barely had to lift a finger to do it. I felt GREAT.  

So I turned off the book lamp, and grabbing my beer, I traipsed out to our patio to bask in the summer heat and the glimmer of my own, shiny, resilience. That night, it was bright enough to negate a lot of the darkness that had descended since March, and it was glorious.

Who’d have thought that literally losing powerful would lead me to feeling so powerful myself?

Not long after, the boys returned, staying parked in the driveway for the air. The power turned back on, we got our son to bed with a late, but mostly normal song-and-dance, and we could carry on with our evening. 

The dishes stayed put that night. 

Sometimes we find strength in the most unlikely of places. Where have you noticed yours recently? Send me a message and share your story with me.

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