When I was a little girl, my favorite pretend game to play was “waitress.” I would walk around the house wearing an apron, carrying a notepad, and taking food orders, then spend hours in the kitchen preparing and serving my siblings (and all my stuffed animals). Oh, how fun it was to serve people and be able to meet their every need — right from my own kitchen! What a dream!
Well, dreams do come true, folks! And unfortunately so, because for the past two decades, I have been waiting on and serving the hell out of a shitload of people. I’m pretty sure I have forged a permanent fucking path in the tile on my kitchen floor that goes from the refrigerator to the pantry to the oven and back ’round again. The irony here is not lost on me, folks, and neither is the fact that all these people I serve keep coming back for more.
Can’t a mother/waitress get a coffee break? Can you all get the hell out of the kitchen already? You just ate, like, five minutes ago for the fifth time today!
If your house is like mine, the damn kitchen never closes. Ever. It’s a constant cycle of prepping food, cooking food, and cleaning up food, then waiting for the feeding of people to start all over again.
I don’t remember growing up and having the ability (or need, for that matter) of constant kitchen access or being on any type of snack schedule whatsoever. Furthermore, I don’t recall my mom ever preparing a meal for us other than dinner, and 90% of the time it came out of a box with the word “Helper” somewhere on it and took her all of 10 minutes to make. We were in and out in five minutes, and we stayed out.
And fridges full of healthy prepared snacks consisting of non-GMO and sustainably farmed whole grains and organic produce? When I was a kid, you know what that was called? It was called “Here is a fucking box of raisins. Now come back in eight hours when the streetlights are on, and we’ll have TV dinners!”
We were left on our own for everything else we needed to eat, and since we were playing outside constantly, we were never ones to hang out in the kitchen, waiting to be waited on. Who had time for that? I guess today’s kids do, because when they’re not eating, they’re standing there looking for something to eat, or mess up, or taste, or take one bite out of, or open a brand-new bag of chips when there are already three identical bags open. Are you kidding me right now? There are three fucking bags already open!
My kids are way past the stage of simply babyproofing and locking up the pantry. They are now in what I like to call the “raccoon stage.” That is where I go to bed with the kitchen completely clean and wake up to what looks like a pack of rabid animals threw a stag party in my kitchen around midnight. This stage is otherwise known as “I live with ‘tweens and teenagers and their never-ending voracious appetites.”
These kids are never, ever full, which means that, like bears coming out of hibernation, they are on a constant search for sustenance. I’ve taken to actually having to hide food in my house. Who does that? I’ll tell you who: the same woman who drops $800 at Costco and is told two days later, “Mom, we have nothing to eat.”
Fuck that shit. I’ve got those kids on rations now. Looking for chips? Sorry, sucker, they are in the back of my closet, wrapped in a parka. Granola bars? Nope. They’re in a tampon box underneath my sink. Fudge ice cream bars? Check the box of frozen kale. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Now get the hell out.
Right around the time a lovely older woman gently tells me how much I’m gonna miss this someday, I start to daydream about the possibility of a kitchen that is perfectly clean and empty roughly 24/7. And then I think about how content I’ll be with a “sandwich night” five nights a week and “date night without kids” the other two nights.
Miss the gigantic grocery bills putting us in the poorhouse and my very unintentional waitressing, sous chef, and dishwashing careers? Not on your life, Grandma. I may just turn the kitchen into a shoe closet after they all move out.