The toaster goes back in the cupboard under the counter when it’s not being used. The spices are in a drawer, everything visible right away. No lost time searching for the right one.
On the window ledge and on the wall are the people and things important to her. It’s my daughter’s kitchen. A small set of praying hands is hung by the kitchen window near the Mother’s Day gifts from her own daughter. Orchids that will bloom again are waiting their turn on the ledge. It’s my daughter’s kitchen.
I’ve been in my daughter’s kitchen enough to know where most things are stored. I know how her stove works and can set the timer on the oven. I know dishes need to be pretty washed before they go in the dishwasher and to use Windex on everything.
I’ve sat on a stool and watched her cooking often enough to know that she may break into song at any moment. If she is especially inspired, she will dance with great exaggerated arm waving, making her twin toddlers laugh and laugh and laugh. Enough already, I think, until I remember that she’s teaching her boys about having a kitchen, that it’s a place of function and entertainment, a place that if handled right is the joyful center of a family.
Where did she learn that, I wonder, as if everything an adult child does has to have been learned somewhere, taught to them by their parents. Was our kitchen like that when she was growing up? Maybe, some of the time, most of the time. I don’t know. Life gets lived so fast, it’s hard to evaluate things. You remember the times that really stand out and not all of those are so joyful.
I remember our kitchen as a child as a functional place. My mother always wore an apron. Dinner, or supper as we called it, was served in the dining room. This makes it sound fancy but it was only because the kitchen was too small and had no table and chairs. After supper, the great dishwashing war, paused since the day before, would resume with my brother and sister snapping words and towels at each other. Being little and in the middle was lethal so I stayed out of the way.
As a single mother, my kitchen was our dining room. We ate, the two of us, sitting down at the table which was next to a window overlooking the garage and the alley. I remember taking Alice Brock’s (Alice’s Restaurant) advice and putting an easy chair in the kitchen. I wasn’t a hippie but could have been had I had more nerve.
The longer I watch my daughter in her kitchen, I realize that the place and space and family that she has created have slivers of many things in their construction and I am but one of them. If I had worried that what she would take from the kitchen of her childhood was my impatience and distraction, I think I can rest easy. She found a better piece to use.
And I’m very grateful for that, sitting here in my daughter’s kitchen.