Two years ago, our daughter, son-in-law and their three small children moved in with us for seven months while they were between houses. We were feeding seven a day.
Now our son, daughter-in-law and their five children have moved in with us while they are between houses and we are feeding nine a day. I try to look at it as a promotion.
Some children pick at their food, shove it around on their plate and do not eat much. These children are not that sort. They enjoy food and are appreciative for food.
Mid-morning they want to know what’s for lunch. When they’re eating lunch, they want to know what will be for dinner, and after dinner, when they are bathed and ready for bed, they ask what will be for breakfast.
When I scramble eggs for breakfast it’s a dozen and a half at a time.
We need chickens. Free range would be good. They’d complement the free-range children.
They are also heavy drinkers. If I bought enough milk to last all week, there’d be no room for anything else in the fridge.
How did women a generation or two ago feed families this size and larger? And they did it without the aid of freezers, microwave ovens, dishwashers and grocery stores minutes away.
As I routinely cook for a larger crowd, I find my inner domestic diva has died. She has gone to a better place, one where the kitchen gleams, the refrigerator door does not have crud on the handles and the windows are not covered with greasy handprints.
That said, sometimes the echo of a domestic diva is still in my head saying condescending things when I make sandwiches for lunch and serve them right off the cutting board.
Yesterday, feeling guilty about presentation, I put a piece of parchment on the cutting board before throwing on the sandwiches. Two of the kids asked if company was coming.
There was a time I served melon in wedges with uniformly cut pieces nesting in the rinds. Now I chunk up a melon, dump the pieces in a bowl, throw down some toothpicks and tell them to spear what they want. Victory goes to the swift. So does the melon.
Somedays I’m so weary that I use paper plates. I feel guilty using paper plates with the waste and all, but I rationalise that feeling guilty is better than feeling dead.
I do have concerns that my standards are now so low that may not be a good role model. We celebrated a family birthday party the other morning with 11 cousins and donuts on the patio. I took out a large bowl filled with water and a roll of paper towels, announcing it was a finger bowl. Two kids immediately dipped their fingers in and you could no longer see the bottom of the bowl.
When they were finished eating, I heard one of our daughters tell her kids to just dip their faces in the finger bowl.
I’m so ashamed.
But I’m alive.