Photo: Wednesday afternoon. Two little boys making pies in the kitchen.
I really have to elaborate on this photo above. Motherhood is lovely and childhood is magic, but I’ll be real with you: when the boys asked to make pies with me, I really dreaded it.
The kitchen is, essentially, my last space. It was inevitable, but the boys have effectively taken over every space in this house. When I step into the kitchen, I have control and command. When they are in the space, they bring chaos and nonsense, two things that really can’t be there.
I’ve been really torn: I’ve wanted to share my love of cooking with them, but I’ve also enjoyed this, my last bit of private space, my last little non-shared time of day. I share my bed with my husband, I lost my closet a long time ago to The Husband’s computer things, the guestroom is full of junk (but about to get a makeover), I share the bathroom with three stinky boys who cannot manage to keep it clean, the boys trail the stuff from the playroom through the living room and into the dining room… the van is forever strewn with childhood paraphernalia… even the garden has become The Husband’s baby and not my own. Don’t take this. Leave my kitchen be. Let something in this world be mine and mine alone.
My Quiet Thoughts are about honoring the ask and learning to love the sharing. Childhood is always about pushing boundaries and asking questions. It’s also about invading spaces and growing into them. It’s hard to relinquish space… to stop thinking about it as an invasion and start considering it an emerging. This is the world that I brought them into. It gets bigger and bigger as they grow, which means it’s supposed to get ever smaller for me. My kitchen is part of that, and they need to learn how to be in it because understanding of a kitchen means their thriving in adulthood. They need to be men who can cook. I won’t do to my daughter-in-laws what my mother-in-law did to me. That means I need to learn how to let them be in my kitchen.
I will give the boys a lot of credit. There wasn’t a lot of fighting, or scolding, or reminding. They wanted to be there and they, for the most part, had ears for listening and eyes for watching and hands for helping. The easy parts were easy (pouring ingredients into the Kitchen Aid) while the hard parts were hard (pinching the pie crusts at the edges for a nice look). They asked their questions and made their observations. They were present for the moment, wanting to participate in a new tradition and to make a contribution to the big Thanksgiving meal. You can see a bit of pride in their faces in the picture above. They knew they’d done good work: not just the labor in the creation, but in the work of being in the kitchen and not being yelled at. They were “good boys” who had done what they were told. That’s a feat right now. It’s just the age and the disposition.
I honor the small victories. Today, it’s pies. Tomorrow, it’s spaghetti sauce. Someday, with God’s help, perhaps it will be kinklings. They can only learn through being in the kitchen with me, watching and practicing. That means I have to continually invite them. I have to teach myself to share and to love that sharing. I have to honor their ask so that they feel encouraged to ask for more and emerge into new spaces. It’s their world and I brought them into it. It’s my duty to make sure they keep finding new spaces to step into.
It’s been quite the holiday. Cinnamon rolls in the morning, brie and prosciutto at noon, then duck in the afternoon. After dinner, my dear friend and her family came over for dessert, video games and drinks. We have rarely shared this holiday with others, often opting for pajamas and football by ourselves for the holiday. I must say, though: a house filled with the happy screaming of 5 children, story-sharing and laughter with good friends, and a table full of different desserts… it was a good way to spend a little time on Thanksgiving. I don’t always love my time here in Massachusetts, but I will say this: I’ve never regretted the friends I’ve made. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’ll never take back these years here. I’ve met some of the greatest people I’ll ever meet, I’ve heard some of the best stories ever told, and I’ve gotten to sincerely love the sweetest children and teen-folk this side of anywhere. Even just this week, I got another announcement for another precious little angel. The future walks with me and talks with me and teaches me and kisses me on the cheek and tells me, time and again, that all is well.
For every time I’ve had a hard moment, I’ve had 3 more that were filled with absolute joy and that’s always been because some dear, dear friend made something wonderful happen. So if you are a Dear Reader who lives here in Massachusetts who has known me from any of the lives I’ve lived here: Thank you. I’m thankful for you this season. Maryland is far away, but you make Massachusetts something close to “home.” This is an unspeakably precious gift.
It’s a cold, cold night here. I hear the clanking and rumbling of the boiler downstairs and I thank God it’s still running. The sky is clear and the moon is out. The remaining snow glitters under it. A warm-up is on the way. May the bitter cold be gone until well after the holidays.
This Friday, I wish you the joy of thinking of others and purchasing meaningful gifts that you know will make someone smile. It’s not about consuming, Dear Reader. It’s about giving something that will last and mean something to the recipient. It’s expensive (Lord, I’m so broke), but it’s so worth it. This really can be a marvelous time of year. I wish you safe travels from whereever you are to wherever you need to go. Be mindful that everyone is trying to get somewhere. I wish for your safety and for the careful conduct of those who travel the way with you. I wish you leftovers that you will actually eat and perhaps transform into something appealing and delicious. The New York Times seems to really master the leftover game. If I had leftover turkey in the fridge, I’d spend time on that website. I wish you a few phone calls with the family members or friends who weren’t at your table yesterday. This is the time of year for voices you haven’t heard in a while. Say hello, Dear Reader. Tell someone you love them. I wish you time to work on your holiday cards and/or letters. Actually: yes to letters. Write a holiday letter to accompany your card this year, Dear Reader. People want to know what you’ve been up to. Share the bright spots, the joys, the missed opportunities, the hopes for the upcoming year. People cherish these more than you may think. I wish you one good long hug, a kiss on the cheek, a squeeze of your hand, and someone telling you that you look fantastic. You do, Dear Reader. You really do.
If this is the time of year for glittering and twinkling and wishing and hoping… then this is your time of year, Dear Reader. Shine and shine brightly. Show up for places and be your best self. Glow in a room, Dear Reader, and don’t be afraid to do so. It’s the end of yet another year and you’re still here. Remind people that they are still here, too, and they are loved and appreciated. Tell someone they are loved and what they do matters to this world. Tell someone they are beautiful and admired and worthy. Tell someone these things because you already know this about yourself. I tell you every week. You believe me, right, Dear Reader? I hope you do. I’m just telling you the truth.
Until Monday, travel safely, shop wisely, and take care.