We've lived in three different places in the last year. It's been hard work.. harder than I even realized until I sat down today and felt like I'd been working for the last year nonstop. We bounced from wedding planning to house hunting to moving in someplace new not once, but twice. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, not this time. We're in a good place and the work that we put in will be benefits for us to reap in the future. I know that. I'm glad for that. On multiple occasions Jared has come home from work and looked up to me at the top of the stairs, looking over the dog and the toddler clamoring to greet him in the entryway to say to me, "This is our life."
Today I made a schedule of things I wanted done by Thanksgiving so that I can sit back and relax while I have company and just be proud of our new home. The first thing I wanted to do was restock our pantry and get back into the swing of cooking real, homemade meals. No more frozen stuff, no more premade grocery store dinners, no more fast food. It really took a lot out of me to eat like that throughout these weeks of moving in and living without working appliances. I feed people as one of my ways of taking care of them, and not feeding my family was making me feel depressed. Fixing the pantry was just the first step in my mind to getting back on track.
While growing up, the pantry was one of the many things that my mom did for us that I didn't even notice or appreciate. She didn't shop that often, but we always had food. I could always make some sort of dinner in her house. I never ran out of toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, batteries, tomato paste... I could open the door and there it was for me. If she didn't have the exact thing I wanted, I could usually find a pretty good substitute. My mom's pantry was so expansive that my sister used to come home from college and go "grocery shopping" in it. She would return to school after each break with canned soup and jars of sauce.
I never realized that this wasn't something every family did. I didn't know that there were people who didn't have backups, buying only enough to make a recipe or meal before going back to the store for more. When Jared and I moved into our first place, the thing that made me feel most adult and secure in our new home was putting together those cupboards full of food. It was comforting to open the doors and see options, see that there were things I could make to feed us that night and the next, to know we wouldn't be starving at least for this week.
When we were particularly worried about becoming parents, I would get up and make food for us. We would sit on our rummage-saled furniture, sometimes at 1, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning eating tacos, brownies, corn bread, chicken pot pie. The pantry and the food in it gave us that escape, something to linger over while we hatched our plan B and contemplated next moves. That food was a non-judgemental safety net and all we had to do was open up a few boxes, measure out ingredients, warm up the house with the glow from the oven, and eat together.
I want to be able to give that same thing to Oliver. I want to teach him to feed himself and others, and I want him to be able to walk to the pantry and open it up wide for inspiration. Even if he never takes to cooking, that food will still be there for me to give to him, to instill in him the notion that some things are constant in life. There will always be someone to sit around the table with, and there will always be food here to share with them.
Because, to me, there is no place that seems more like home than a kitchen table with home cooked food upon it and a group of people gathered around it. The boxes might be half unpacked and the home repair list might be long, but we will still be at home.
"This is our life."
Jared is so right... This is our life. And it is so good.