Growing up, the center of all things happened in my mother's kitchen. Aromas varying from sweet to savory filled up the space like a warm welcome. But her kitchen extended much more to us than just delicious meals.
Similar to most other households, ours was busy with the energy of multiple people sharing spaces.
When I was younger my mother's kitchen always felt bigger than it actually was. Maybe in part because it satisfied so many roles in my life. In the morning it was a lively buffet, with an assembly line of breakfast bowls on the table and a glass of orange juice garnished with a vitamin. At the same time, brown lunch bags stood tall on the countertops like an art exhibit. After school it became an open classroom or game table, depending on the time it would take the five of us to complete our homework. Evening transformed the space into a fine restaurant with a standing dinner reservation at 5:30 pm, that coincided with my dad's return home from work. Cleanup from a homemade meal that included seven place settings was split among us children like waitstaff.
Additionally, ample amounts of teasing was served, as well as multiple sides of sarcasm from my siblings and I. That in turn, prompted continued lessons on kindness and good manners from my parents. Wooden spoons also assisted in lectures and were occasionally used for more than just stirring our food.
Conversations were engaging but not always brimming with highly intellectual discussions. The world news we were prone to converse about, came from the individual worlds we were all experiencing at that time in our lives.
This multipurpose room additionally offered me friendships, togetherness, counseling, joy and sadness over the years, but most importantly, a favorite place to be. And even though the scene was constantly changing, one thing always remained the same...the bond it created between us all.
My mothers kitchen allowed us to reconnect, share stories, spill our hundredth glass of milk, host parties, celebrate and create memories. The food became second to the fellowship it rooted. The time there was intentional and something I strive for in my own kitchen today.
My kitchen looks different than it was when I was growing up and dinnertime is not in the same fixed slot every night. However, sitting down to a meal together is. Due to my households schedules, dinner can range from 6:30 - 8:30 at night. It may be a completely thought out meal or pizza boxes and plastic silverware. What I've learned is that I don't have to duplicate the exact set up I had growing up to create the same feelings that my mother's kitchen produced for me. Instead, I just need to make the time there a priority and offer the same love and affection that I had.
My mothers kitchen has changed over the years. And although the day to day bustle is gone, when revisited, the warm feeling when entering, has stayed the same. A new generation of small hands has entered her kitchen and picked up where my siblings and I left off. Taste testing desserts, giggling at the "kids table" and spilling even more milk has brought an added joy to their lives and ours. Witnessing the closeness of extended generations that it has brought over the years has been a true gift and I'm grateful that it all began, in my mothers kitchen.