Put Down The Sponge

Do you ever feel as if you’ve reached your lifetime quota for certain things? That if you never had to wash another dish, for example, you are due?

The other day I was loading groceries in the car and in a split second, I seemed to reach my lifetime threshold for lugging grocery bags.

I sat on the open hatchback of my station wagon wondering how many grocery bags I’ve carried in my life and I decided that I must have just reached a million on this shopping trip. As some sort of prize to myself, I decided I’d eat out for th e rest of my life.

I seem to be reaching a lot of these milestones lately.

I’m tired of stoplights, cleaning the kitchen and raking leaves. I’m close to reaching the threshold of endurance for scrubbing the tub, paying taxes and emptying the dishwasher.

The other day my husband walked into the kitchen and I had my head down on the countertop.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, in a startling moment of perception.

“I was just thinking that I’ve had a sponge in my hand for a good part of my life. Not a microphone or a surgical tool or a wad of hundred thousand dollar bills, but a sponge.”

You can really get to know someone by asking them what they’re tired of.

Movie stars are tired of the paparazzi. Seasoned football players are tired of Sundays. My mother is tired of putting up her storm windows. I have friends who are tired of being tired. We’re all tired of politics.

But the most interesting response I got was from a friend who said he was tired of having to go to sleep at night – the whole ritual: pajamas, brushing teeth, getting into bed at a decent time and counting sheep.

I get that. If we live to be 75, we’ve spent 25 years of our lives sleeping or getting ready to go to sleep or lying there not sleeping. Twenty-five years! Maybe a few of us wouldn’t mind having those 25 years back.

I was stopped at a stoplight late at night on my way home from the airport recently and since I am reaching my millionth stoplight quota, I wanted the three minutes back I’d just given to civil obedience. There was not a car in sight for miles and it seemed a waste to be sitting there listening to my blinker.

“You drive,” I will tell my husband one day soon. “I’ve reached my lifetime stoplight quota.”

I’ve heard of women whose children leave the nest and they suddenly decide they aren’t cooking anymore.

Think of the woman who once hosted 30 consecutive Thanksgivings with 15 side dishes and six pies who now shows up at your house with a box of Russell Stover candy and no intention of stirring the gravy.

I get that woman. I really do. She’s reached her lifetime turkey quota.

An older woman was telling me a story the other day about her brother. His wife had died a year earlier and he called to ask her when he should change the sheets on his bed. He hadn’t changed them since his wife had passed away.

I was impressed that he hadn’t died of some biological bed sheet illness but it was a liberating thought. I’m tired of washing sheets and it’s nice to know not changing them for a year is survivable.

My mother-in-law – even during the lean times in her life – had her sheets sent out every week. That was her treat to herself. They’d come back perfectly folded and ready to be placed – military style – on all of the seven beds in her house.

Good for her. A woman has got to protect her quotas now and then.

The last time my husband was home and I pulled up with groceries in the car, he came out to help unload them.

“Can I just do something?” I asked. “I just for once want to walk in the house after I’ve been shopping and not carry in a single grocery bag. I just want to walk in the door arms free, like I don’t have a care in the world.”

And so I did.

And it really was as wonderful as I thought it would be.