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Our kitchen table is starting to show it’s age. The grout between the tiles is getting dirty and harder to keep clean. There are paint stains from art projects gone wrong and initials carved into it from a small boy who knew better but couldn’t help himself. It isn’t quite big enough for us any more and on more than one occasion the teenagers fight over leg space. I stare at that kitchen table some days and think that we desperately need to replace. And then the hormones kick in and the emotional roller coaster hits. I can’t bear to part with such a sentimental object. Yes, I am getting weepy over a table.
The family that eats together….
The kitchen table was always a place for asking questions, and not always appropriate ones. One morning, over a bowl of Cheerios, my son asked me about transvestites. He was 8.
Where he even heard that word, I have no idea but being the open minded mom that I am we started a conversation. One question led to another and before I knew it, we were discussing sex change operations over breakfast.
Enough, kid. Just drink your juice! I apologize in my head to the parents of his young friends. They are about to get more of an education than you probably wanted them to get at this age.
Life Lessons Learned
They learned important life lessons at that kitchen table. One evening, my daughter was struggling with her math homework.
She didn’t understand the problem but was determined to figure it out without any help. Unfortunately, it was starting to get the better of her. Tears streamed down her face as she crossed things out and furiously rubbed her eraser over yet another incorrect answer.
I told her to walk away for a few minutes but she refused. I finally had to forcibly take the paper away from her and sent her off to shower.
After she had calmed down, I handed the math paper back to her. She had a clearer head and managed to finish her homework without any more tears.
Sometimes, dear child, you cannot force an answer to come to you. Given enough time and a clear head, problems are usually much simpler to solve.
An eye opening education
Lessons around the kitchen table were harsh some days. We watched through the bay window as a wren entered the bluebird box outside and tossed baby bluebirds out the hole.
There was an enormous amount of yelling and crying as we tried to salvage what was left of the bluebird family. Life can be cruel and the good guy doesn’t always win.
They learned a lot of lessons around that kitchen table. They learned that they hate Brussels sprouts but they have to eat them anyhow because mommy said so. Homemade beef stroganoff became a family favorite at that table.
They learned how to snap green beans, how to use a knife and cutting board, and how to feed Brussels sprouts to the dog when they thought I wasn’t looking.
That kitchen table hold memories of Barbie coloring books, Pinewood Derby race cars, and more Playdough than I care to remember.
The best kitchen table is one that is well used
It doesn’t see quite as much of my kids nowadays. As teenagers, they prefer to do homework in their bedrooms and they have no interest in coloring books and playdough.
But we still gather at that table every night to fight over leg space, complain about Brussels sprouts, and talk about our day. Some days it’s the only time I actually get to have a conversation with them.
I could upgrade my table to something new and shiny. One without paint stains and kids initials carved into it. But, for now I will hold on to the one I have and treasure every ding and gouge that it has.
When I dream about the things I want for my children one day, I don’t dream of big houses, fancy cars, or important jobs. I dream of them having a kitchen table like the one in my own kitchen. A table full of memories.
Although I have a feeling they won’t be serving any Brussels sprouts at their table when they grow up.
I wear many hats in this thing called life. I am a science geek, an introvert, a busy mother of teens and slightly neurotic about dirty dishes. I used to have a really important sounding job in cancer research when I decided to give it all up to be a stay at home mom. I played with Playdough, colored pictures of Barbies and freaked out when the baby ate dog food. Then the second kid came along and I started to think dog food might have nutritional value. What is Fractionated Living? It is me…divided by work, life, kids, marriage, and hobbies and trying to come up with the answer to life.