do·mes·tic

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garden to kitchen. this is summer.

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i find myself in the garden after a rain, searching for new harvests. peas  tomatoes and lettuce is where we’re at. and it’s a good place to be. soon to be drowning in zucchini and carrots and a second round of salad greens.

i learn about myself during the summer months. i remember again that i struggle with that word, domestic. i think i’m reshaping it according to my own life as it is now. perhaps i didn’t have strong role models growing up, in the kitchen. the woman’s role and the man’s role was utterly defined, don’t step outside the box or it will go noticed and criticized. (the serving and the snapping and the domesticity and the martyrs and the submission and the expectations and the reality of being outnumbered by testosterone in a time when what was taught was how to be a nice girl and not rock the boat) needless to say, i struggle with that word, domestic.

i have a hard time with words like wife and homemaker and the weight of all of it stirs a rebellion in me that doesn’t go unnoticed by the family i have now, still surrounded by all males (a testosterone of a different kind, a new generation.)  my partner provides space for me to sort it all out, in the push pull way i have about me. i’m not sure why it’s during the summer months that i search for redefinition. it comes naturally and cyclically perhaps because we have more mental space in the summer. i dive in what it might mean for me… for my own sanity. for my own possible discontent with the way the world works in roles of male and female. for my past life and for my current relationship. for my own divided female self and all the women who came before me. for all the modern women and wives and partners and sisters and daughters of friends that will come after me too. i struggle with words like feminist and stubborn, feisty and career-driven, sisterhood and cattiness and competition and and and… it all comes down to a battle in my brain of what it means to be feminine and strong.

this battle is played out in the kitchen, no doubt.

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our kitchen is in a state of remodel this summer. we’re super excited for the change, the increased space, and the new flow of energy that will arrive in the kitchen. i’m super excited i suppose, because it seems this change might breathe more life into this area of my life. always searching for balance, i go about my days. occasionally i hear my mom’s voice. she had a way of being disappointed that still showed admiration for the path i was creating on my own, in my own way of being me and growing into the woman i am now, the woman she never got to know. i did things in a way that she never quite understood, but she never tried to make into a replica of herself. and for that i am eternally grateful. she let me stumble and fall and moan about it and live and learn. she knew i learned by doing.

“oh meredith” she’d shake her head and twist my unkempt hair in her fingers, “why don’t you brush your hair?” yet always said in a way that carried the undertone of pride. “you’re just like my mother,” she would say. and i took this as a compliment. her mother, who never wore shoes or bras and in the 1950′s had a head of crazy unkempt hair. in family pictures, atleast, that’s how i saw her. perhaps she pulled it together to appear in society because she was such a classy lady, but 100% totally real and absolutely herself forging her own path. she exists only in my imagination, flickering through 8mm family movies from the beach, and through the stories my mother shared of her.

and you know what? she loved to cook. she and her husband wrote their own cookbooks. he did the illustrations. i have one, a red cover worn with love and time and years of kitchen splatters. i get lost in the handwritten font, the time and love and energy it took them to pull this together. and together, they did it.

today, we work together in the kitchen. this is the difference between past and present. we are remodeling not just for more space in our eating nook for the family of five that shares meals here, but we are adding more counter space so we can prepare our meals together. i think now of my grandparents, the folks from new england that i never had the pleasure of meeting. in the kitchen, with the new light streaming in, i hear my mothers voice. like the other morning, shelling peas. “peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold…” my mother loved peas.

i go about my task with a bit more joy when i realize i can make this life into whatever i so desire. side by side with my love. just as my grandparents did together. just as my mother forged on her own and made peace with her own inner strength without need for outside reassurance. these women are inside of me, the positive and the negative, the light and dark, the strength and weakness. we are all these pieces. as women, we are. i guess it’s during summer, with space, i can redefine what it means to be domestic.


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