The kitchen is the heart of most homes, including mine. Each cracker, apple, sandwich, and carrot stick is a blood cell carried in vessels of bags or pockets throughout the day until the food runs out and the someone hungry comes back for more “oxygen.” Whether the family eats supper together around the table every night and discusses the highs and lows of life, or whether it is just where people go when their stomach is rumbling, the kitchen is the source of of energy driving everyone’s day.
I admit, I’m over-possessive in my kitchen. Maybe even a little snobby. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of my kids cooking with me or guests helping to clear the table; I just like elbow room. Okay, it’s not just an issue of elbow room. I like having thinking space in my kitchen. It’s a place to relax, have fun, and release my creativity, even though it sometimes feels more like a factory. Yet, when I walk into my kitchen alone, the whole family is with me in spirit. I think, What can I make for my pickiest eater that will make him happy and be good for his health, too? or I should wash the dishes from breakfast before lunch so my toddler can have her favorite spoon. or Maybe I have time to put up soup for my husband while the kids are eating macaroni and cheese. What special treat can I make for a class party or to celebrate an accomplishment? (“Emergency” Cookies maybe?)Just let me make sure everyone has what they need.
Once I’m organized, the rest of the family is welcome in body, not just in spirit. Until then, I have these reminders of who I’m cooking for to keep me company: Tu B’Shvat trees from three of my kids and flowers for Shabbat from my husband.
What we plant in our children has long-range effects. What we feed them effects their health, their ability to concentrate, and their long-term eating habits. The way we speak to them and what we tell them forms their outlook on life and influences their moods, behavior, and decisions. The following quote, seen on jewishmom.com, was distributed to the children in the preschool class one of my children would have been in if we hadn’t moved last summer:
All of the parents in the kitchen and all of the teachers in the classroom, think about the important job you’re doing there. We plant, we feed, we nourish, and we nurture. We infuse life and strength into people that could stay with them forever…or at least until they get hungry again and come back for more.