I unpacked the last of the kitchen this week, ignoring the handful of small details around the space we’re still waiting to complete, grateful to be making food here again. Even the kids have welcomed this part of our home again, joining me in meal-making and dish washing. Although the dishwashing still solicits grumbling, they’re content to walk away without soaked shirts or stains where the old rusty sink used to leak on them. There’s space for them to cook alongside me or separately work on another part of a meal. It’s not a huge kitchen, but it’s enough for us. Huge has never been our style anyway. We’re postponing our marble countertops and dishwasher for a bit to leave room in our budget for other family expenses on the horizon, like graduate school classes, business taxes, and a new fridge to replace our dying Craigslist find. “If we buy a fridge, it will prolong the countertops. Do you want to buy a new fridge?” Mark asks me, his body gently leaned against the kitchen wall he had only weeks before textured and painted. After 13 years of marriage, he’s learned I more often choose beauty over practicality, warranting a question that might seem otherwise obvious to anyone else. “Well, I want the countertops. We need a fridge. This one is barely cooling.” I respond, tossing more kale around the pan. Liam grabs a jar from the shelf to fill with water, “I understand that, mom.” He’s referring to those words. Need. Want. We have them regularly with our children, as we help them learn about money, about things, about life. As parents I often think of the one-on-one conversations as being the primary teaching tool, connection point, while the rest of life fills in the gaps. Perhaps it’s the reverse: the everyday conversations, the transparent ways we as parents struggle through our own decisions and emotions that speak the clearest messages, that help our children arrive at the words I understand.
I think of the word home and a million colloquial phrases swirl it. Somehow in this space, full of rote and practicality, our family pieces the word together, bit by bit.
plant life / computer time / light after the dinner dishes / a simple mantle / an art journal / a game of hand strength / a dying fridge / a conversation