Sunday, April 16, 2006

In Mom's Space

It seems that everyone in my family growing up had at least one place where he or she held court. A space that was sacrosanct, no trespass. Tacit agreement said squatters’ rights held here. That’s what comes, perhaps, of a family of individuals.

My dad had my parents’ room whenever he came home for a nap. My oldest brother had my brothers’ bedroom for reading book by the light through the east-facing window. I had the basement and a room of my own. My other brother had the whole outdoors−no room could hold him. My mom had the living room and the kitchen. Boy, did she have the kitchen.

My mom had the kitchen in the way that a queen has a throne and the kingdom, in the way that I have my hands, in the way that other folks have their names and their homes. She didn’t just have it. She owned it. It was her as if she built it and gave birth to it. We could visit. We weren’t confused who ruled the room. From floor to ceiling, left to right, north to south, east to west, the letters M-O-M were everywhere. You could feel air change when you walked into the room.

Or maybe it was hearing, “Out. Or I’ll put you to work,” regularly that made it seem that way.

No one thought to sit in her chair. Even friends who had never been in the room gravitated away from that chair. Their was a force field around it.

There were two ovens clearly meant for one person whose name sounded much like God’s and needed one less letter. She didn’t love to cook like some moms do. That didn’t matter. Even Dad, who was 13 years older and loved to cook, didn’t go near a pan in that kitchen. He knew better.

In Mom’s space everything ran as it should. People were entertained. Cookies were baked. Meals were served. We three “automatic dishwashers” worked listening to the radio while top 40 music played. Beautiful wood slat shutters hung over the two windows over the two sinks.
There was never a lack for anything you might need to eat. It was a small grocery store. I don’t remember ever having an Old Mother Hubbard moment in that space−never once went to the cupboard to find we were out of anything. Looking back, it seems amazing, then again not.

Every Saturday morning at sunrise, Mom would make a list in the same order as the products sat in the aisles of her market. Then she’d leave the house just in time to there when the store opened. Saturday, it would be, because that’s when the shelves were stocked. General Mom explained that tactic to me in Kitchen Strategy 101. That might be the closest to the stove she ever let me get.

Maybe it had something to do with Mom having been a kid during the Depression with lots of brothers and sisters and not a lot of food.

When my husband started shopping for our family, I remember once saying, “When I was growing up, we never ran out of bread.” We still joke about how in my Mom’s house we never ran out of bread. We still run out of bread in this house regularly. We can’t quite keep track of it.

Hey, my space is the office and the bedroom. His space is the living room.

We don’t keep the bread in either place.

I had a sandwich tonight. It made me think of Mom.
−me strauss Letting me be


Rain said...

Liz, this is a really good post. I didn't have a kitchen mom, but I still can relate. I have a living room mom. My space is my bedroom, no doubt, and my office. I hate to run out of bread, I try to keep a loaf in the freezer. Thanks for the smiles.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Rain,
Great to see you. Glad to know you don't run out of bread. That makes me crazy--even though I refuse to be in charge of making sure we have enough. :)