With their dirty noses pressed against the screen
of the kitchen door, they pathetically beg for supper. “Please Mama, we’re starving.” I shoo them from the porch and tell them just another ten minutes. They linger eagerly on the front steps, talking in whispers about the good smells wafting from the kitchen, and I silently wonder if my children see me in the same light that I saw my own mother many years ago. I remember running to the supper table and noshing down a comforting meal of traditional family favorites like mashed potatoes, pan-fried sirloin steaks and corn on the cob. I remember the hunger pangs growling in my belly as I played in the late afternoon sun on my bike or in my treehouse, and I just knew Mom was cooking something delicious in the kitchen. She was always standing over the old Home Clarion, stoking the fire by removing the hotplates and adding small pieces of hardwood. Yes, my mother cooked and baked all our food on a wood burning stove. When I actually think of what a triumph it was to maintain a steady temperature on such an antiquated kitchen appliance, I am dumbfounded. When I manage to not burn food on my modern flat-top range, I’m all WOOT! Do my children see me as I saw her? As only the constant provider of warm meals, clean sheets and bedtime stories? Do they know of the dreams and aspirations I contemplate as I stir the hamburger helper? I develop short stories, decipher my algebra homework and dream of the career that awaits me in ten years. I wonder what my life would have brought me had I waited a few more years to have babies. I wonder if my writing would be regularly read in a parenting magazine or if I would have landed an impressive career as an editor. What did my mother think about? Was the 200 acre farm and her middling marriage her dream come true? Did she wish she had back-packed throughout Europe before settling down with babies? Was she at peace with herself and her choice to stay home with us? Did she think about her girlfriends with successful careers of their own and worry that life had passed her by? I never asked her. I only pressed my dirty nose against the screen of the kitchen door and begged for mashed potatoes.