I spend most of my day in the kitchen.
I usually start by unloading the dishwasher and maybe loading it back up a bit. I eat my own breakfast before the boys can demand too much of me. I pour them their first cup of milk (then their second, third, fourth…) of the day. When they’ve come out of their morning stupor, I feed them their breakfasts. If we’re heading out for the day, I load up our bags in the kitchen. If we’re not, I work on more dishes, then maybe some dinner prep.
Lunch rolls around and we’ve got that prep/eating/clean-up. Inevitably there are more dishes, then some serious dinner prep, or some baking, or making a meal to freeze for someone (there always seems to be someone) who’s had a baby. Then there’s the stress of the witching, pre-dinner hour, where whatever dinner prep I have left is punctuated by breaking up fights, tending to wounded feelings, and stumbling around with two little boys hanging onto my legs.
When my husband gets home, our mail lands on the kitchen table and some of it makes its way into the ever-growing piles of paper sitting around the room. Our many packages (we buy lots of the basics from Amazon) come in here first too, so we’ve got the boxes, the things, the packing materials. If we’ve been out for the day, the bags end up back here, their contents spilling out and getting nicked by greedy little hands. Then of course we end our day with dinner… and more dishes… and maybe a glass of wine.
I keep my computer in the kitchen, so this room is also where I spend my “free” time – looking at Facebook, reading news and my favorite blogs, writing my own blog posts. I keep my calendar here, my notebook, an accordion file for our important bits of paper, a basket full of the magazines we read. Someday, I’m sure, the kitchen will be our place for school permission slips, book bags, and homework. It’s frequently the place for play.
So don’t think that just because I spend all day in the kitchen, I’m busy churning out culinary masterpieces. It’s just because (as so many have noted before me), that’s where life happens.
Sometimes, I have found, it’s also where special moments in life happen – moments in motherhood.
I frequently find myself sitting on our kitchen floor with the boys – our grubby, sticky kitchen floor. I take a break from my work and sit with one or both of them in my lap. I tickle them. I grab at them as they race by. I am “sared” by the ferocious lions and bears their imaginations make them. The other night I taught them to play Ring Around The Rosie.
Some of the most special moments of all are when we dance to the music on the radio. I started doing this when I was pregnant with my second child – I’d pick up my first, hold him close, and dance around the kitchen. I focused on how very special this little guy was – this one right here, right in my arms. I imagined dancing with him at his wedding someday. I rejoiced at the look of delight on his face as we whirled around.
I never could have imagined how much better it would get when I had two little guys to dance with at once. Women talk about giving birth as the happiest moments of their lives, but really, to me, I think I feel my happiness most when I’m dancing with my boys on that grubby kitchen floor.
A few months ago, after one such happy dance session in the kitchen, the boys ran off to play and I sat there, awash with peace, giving thanks. And I remembered harder times on the floor. As if watching a scene on television, I saw myself crumbling into a heap on the kitchen floor at our old house, sobbing, overwhelmed by the demands of mothering a newborn. I saw myself in another scene, sitting numbly on that floor, staring into space, drained from mothering a newborn and a 15-month-old at once. I pour out a lot of hard work and exhaustion and frustration onto that floor.
Sometimes – like this past Saturday night, listening to NPR’s Snap Judgment episode Dear Mama, I sit quietly on the kitchen floor with my littlest guy in my lap and I ponder the power, the beauty, the terrible responsibility of motherhood. I have my heart broken by the sad stories (Mother of Many, Raw Meat, Moms in Prison) and I am warmed by the sweet ones (The Tea Ceremony). I give thanks, yet again, for the wondrous blessing of my children – and for the circumstances in which I became a mother. I give thanks that my husband and I are able to provide for our boys’ material needs and that we’re equipped to give them the heaps of love and guidance they need even more.
I’m sure I have more hard times to come. I’m sure I’ll be that sobbing, huddled mess on the floor again. But I’m also sure I have more dancing to do. I’m sure I have more touching stories to ponder, more hugs and kisses to give, more thanks to give – all right here on this kitchen floor.