We are not “empty nesters” just yet, but with only a 17-year-old rising high school senior at home, it often feels that way.
In the summer months, I often work at my computer in the kitchen, since my office tends to be a little on the warm side.
Besides, I love watching the birds eating their food on the deck and can more easily bang on the window when the pesky squirrels try to invade.
Recently, I was at one end of the 6-foot rectangular table and Paul was at the other end checking email on his cell phone.
Suddenly, Paul said: “I think we should get rid of this table and buy a smaller one.” I was stunned.
Before I could speak, he said: “We just don’t need a table this big. If it had a leaf we could take out, that might be different. It just takes up too much room.”
I countered, telling him we needed the big table for when the kids were home. He reminded me that when all four are home, we usually eat in the dining room.
And how often are all of them home at the same time anyway? Maybe two or three times a year, for a few days or so? His logic was troubling.
Let me begin by saying I love my kitchen table. When we first married, we bought a small round, oak table. I loved that table too.
But when you have children, especially four rather quickly, you realize you need a bigger kitchen table. Much bigger.
We bought our current table, unfinished, more than 20 years ago. Paul stained. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful table I had ever seen.
I have so many memories involving our kitchen table. How many meals did the six of us shared at that table? Countless.
So many conversations. So many laughs and, of course, many arguments and tears.
How many birthday celebrations with a cake being brought to a beaming child as the others sang “Happy Birthday.”
Speaking of cakes and my table, I will never forget one of our daughter’s birthdays. She was probably turning 6 or 7. Since her birthday is in June, we were having a typical “outdoor-fun-in-the-sun-themed party.
I am no baker, but I almost always baked our children’s birthday cakes, and that year was no exception. I was attempting to make a sun-shaped cake, and had just gotten the layers out of the oven and placed them on trivets atop the kitchen table to cool.
I was gone from the kitchen for just a few minutes, probably to check on a screaming child or put away a load of laundry.
I returned to the kitchen to find only half of the birthday cake on the table, and a large chocolate Labrador named Hershey reclined on the floor beneath — plenty of cake crumbs all around her mouth. The kitchen table had deep gashes in it, from Hershey’s nails.
What did I do? I did what any self-respecting mother of four young children would do. I burst into tears.
The rest of the story is a bit blurred. I’m quite certain I called Paul, who probably said he was busy with work and couldn’t talk to his hysterical wife.
I’m sure my next call was to my mother, who no doubt dropped whatever she was doing and came to my rescue. And, yes, I did make another cake, sans dog anywhere in sight.
Seeing the pictures of that second birthday cake always make me smile.
Back to kitchen table tales. How much homework and projects were done at that table? So many.
How many puzzles were put together, pictures painted and colored? Too many to count.
How many cookies were lovingly rolled out, Easter eggs dyed, Valentines signed and, yes, columns written while all of that was going on. Oh the memories.
Could I really get rid of this amazing table? A table that has been such a big part of our lives for the past two decades. It almost seemed an act of abandonment.
Paul reminded me that a wooden table has no feelings. That is so like a man to say such a thing to a sentimental woman who is sprinting — not strolling — down memory lane.
I could not bring myself to say we would abandon my table. And now I consider it “mine” and not Paul’s since he wanted to so easily and quickly discard it.
I promised to think about it. As of this writing, I did agree, however, to get new chairs.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.