Sarah sat in my basement today while our five children ran a silly muck all around us. We parented here, there and everywhere all the while trying to carry on a conversation. Like Alisha, the other darling Meal Planning Mommy responsible for this site, Sarah has been a dear friend to me for many years. Long enough that not only do I let her see my house messy, but I can count on her to simply step over the recently projected baby puke without missing a beat on her way to the couch which no doubt has dog hair on the cushions, with a wipe in hand to kill the gigantic spider that has me corned on top of the tonka truck. It is the same with Alisha and I am so grateful for friends, for women in my life, who not only expect but demand that I be authentic.
Authentic. The desire for this in my life was ignited in my spirit several months back. I blogged about it here, one of my favorite little late night writings on SuBRABia. The post is entitled Behold, the Mom. If you have a second, check it out, you will understand the background for this current post better!
I have been breastfeeding now for ten months. Not too long ago I picked up an old copy of Mothering Magazine and came across a terrific article on breastfeeding in Mongolia. The best information I came away with after reading the article? The term: working boob.
That term hit home with me. I currently have working boobs. They are on the job. They have purpose. The gals are currently fulfilling a long term and incredibly necessary function. There is no lace, push ups, and frills here right now. Picking out what to wear has little nothing to do with how it may look and everything to do with how comfortably and conveniently my clothes permit me to whip out lunch whenever and wherever needed.
It would not make sense for me, while breast feeding to wear something (as pretty as it may be!), that makes it difficult for me to nurse my baby. Working boobs require working boob clothing. I am a breast feeding mother, I embrace that, and I happily work with that fact to make life as simple as can be for me and the babe.
So, why is it so hard for me to translate that to my kitchen?
I like a clean kitchen. My guess is that most of us would say that we like a clean kitchen. It is welcoming, inviting, easier to navigate. For many years, however, I have interpreted clean as barren land. A clean kitchen has all the appliances stored away, counter tops completely cleared off, evidence of cooking, cleaning, children neatly tucked behind cabinet doors. I have even seen blogs of amazing women showcasing their spotless kitchens and nodded my head in agreement and excitement.
But, here is the thing. Ready for this?
We live here.
Yep, that's it.
We live here. My family lives in this house. We are in and out of the kitchen all day long. It is in the kitchen we prepare our meals, sit on the counters chatting over coffee, toss the camera so that it is within reach for an in the moment snapshot of our children's hilarity's. I soak my grains in the kitchen, store my food, experiment with sprouting, canning, baking, and play dough making. My kitchen is the hub for all the beautiful chaos that takes places in this house.
Here is the connection. (I was not just talking about boobs for fun, but don't put that past me either!)
My kitchen, is a working kitchen.
It is not a showroom. It is not for sale. It is not perfect. And, nor should it be.
My kitchen should be clean for cooking. My kitchen should be clean so that I can enjoy it. My kitchen should be clean so that it serves us functionally. Clean works.
But~ Clean is not barren. Clean is not perfect. Clean is not hiding my blender, coffee pot, grinder, and mixer behind doors. I use those things, every single day. I waste more time getting them in and out of cabinets in the name of a clean kitchen!
I declare, in my quest for authenticity in my life, to find contentment in my working kitchen and to stop hiding the evidence of the labor and love that takes place in it each and every day.
Seek after functionality, after practicality, after beauty, and after authenticity~ but not the illusion of perfection.
I was telling Sarah about this today and she said, "we need to surrender to the homey".
Just perhaps, if you cook in your kitchen it should look like it.
The appliances you frequent, favored bowls you reach for often, grandma's wooden spoon, the bread ready to serve as toast~ perhaps those things can be put away each and every day~ or maybe they could be left neatly out on the counter ready and willing and eager to buzz and chop and saute and stir life and love into your kitchen each and every day.
What makes your kitchen a working kitchen rather than a showroom?
For me~ my coffee pot, a little blue piece of pottery that holds my beans, my children's art work taped to the cabinets along with favorite recipes, sticky notes with quotes, songs, and scriptures that I love, sourdough starters, and my blendtec. Tonight, that evidence of my working kitchen remains out. And, surprisingly surrendering to the homey did not come as difficult as I thought it might.