Ode to a Kitchen Table

A dining table.I chose you when my firstborn was still relegated to the confines of my belly. We had just purchased our first home, and you fit beautifully. Your long farmhouse style with four chairs and a bench gave us visions of family meals yet to come. With soon-to-be grandparents, aunts, and uncles, we gathered around you for a final meal before our chubby-cheeked son entered the world.

You welcomed our newborn, snug in his car seat, as we arrived home from the hospital. On top of you sat flowers, balloons, a hospital bag, pamphlets on breastfeeding and postnatal care. A physical display of life turned upside down — from a family of two to three. You held casseroles and desserts from loved ones as diaper changes and interrupted sleep became our new normal. Quick bites of food swiped while a colicky babe howled every evening like clockwork.

We let the movers load you into the moving van before our son was three months old. You still hold the scratches from that first move. You bore witness to an infant morphing into a giggly baby. I draped you in a bright blue plastic tablecloth for his first birthday. You were covered with platters of food for guests who streamed in to celebrate the little man. The bear cupcakes made by a great aunt went quickly. 

Your sharp corners became a source of stress as we constantly steered a walking 16-month-old away from you.

>> LISTEN :: The Psychology of a Dirty House :: Momfessions Podcast :: Episode 66 <<

Another move but this time the movers handled you with better care. The air around you hummed with excitement as word spread quickly that a baby girl was on the way. You held the ginger ale, crackers, and sometimes my weary head as morning sickness got the better of me. Being pregnant with a toddler made that chapter of life zip by with whisps of memories.

You were surrounded with beaming grandparents and heaps of food as we brought our brown-eyed daughter home from the hospital. I snuggled in next to my son on your bench and marveled at how huge he suddenly looked, a big brother. 

You held an assortment of items that served as milestones in the life of a young family. Bottles in need of a wash were evidence of a baby girl going through a growth spurt. She ate constantly. A booster seat strapped to one of your chairs proved little man was, indeed, growing up. 

A coloring book with haphazard scribbles laid claim to the rogue crayons rolling around underneath you. Those chicken nuggets seemed to be the only thing the boy wanted to eat. The crumbs didn’t last long with the dogs prowling around you. Take-out containers were left scattered from the nights we chose to forgo family dinner for early kid bedtimes. At-home date nights were just easier then.

>> RELATED READ :: Quick, Easy, and Healthy Family Favorite Dinners {Recipes} <<

Our home was a revolving door of family and friends. It seemed we were always hosting a baby shower, a birthday party, or celebrating an engagement. Life was full of exciting changes and growth.

You were a hit with my quesadilla bar at one particular baby shower. You held the most delicious chocolate cake from a local bakery at my brother’s engagement party. You were encircled by loved ones who talked loudly and hugged freely. Sugared-up children ran past and, again, we lunged to cover your corners, a magnet for small heads. At the end of the parties when the house was empty, we would prop up our feet and clink our beers. Another life or reunion properly recognized. 

The proof of family life you held was not always tangible. You saw grief when news broke of an uncle gone too soon. You bore the weight of our family’s shock and pain. Later we sat the kids around you as we gently explained a move was coming. This one would be bigger than the others. The move would find you in another state, far from those familiar faces who had always surrounded you. Little elbows rested upon you as they asked questions about this mysterious place. You caught the tears of extended family members during a dinner where we discussed our decision.

I looked on as another group of movers pulled their padded blankets from you in a house one thousand miles from what you’d known. Meals here carried conversations about a new school. Teachers were compared, friendships made on the playground were exclaimed.

You were there as a dinner tradition developed. “Glad, Sad, and Mad” was a way to share about each day as we navigated this new life. And suddenly this previously foreign place felt more like home. Our house was, again, filled with friends. Bowls of soup steamed at each seat as we crammed around you and watched the snow fall outside. 

Kitchen tables serve as the center of the home.

You saw a moment in history never known before. As a pandemic shut down the world, the kids opened their laptops and pulled up chairs around you. This would signify the beginning of virtual school. For over a year, you endured stacks of workbooks, pencil marks in your wood, and the tears of a frustrated-mom-turned-teacher. In between schoolwork, you were adorned in art projects. Pencil drawings of Mo Willem book characters and oil pastel creations brought whimsy in a time of confusion and fear. With restaurants shut down, my husband discovered joy in cooking. At night we’d push the schoolbooks aside and make room for brisket, pasta, and smoked chicken. Our entire existence in those days was boiled down to whatever went on around you.

You sit there, day after day, an unassuming piece of furniture. By all accounts, you are a common household object. And yet, you have served as the hub, the heartbeat of our family. You have witnessed our highs and lows, and every ounce of life contained in between. A job well done to you.

Ashley is from Hurst, and though she’s flown the nest a few times now, she always seems to boomerang right back to her hometown. Her latest stint took her family to Chicago for the last four years. While Ashley, her husband of almost 16 years, her son and daughter loved life as honorary Midwesterners, Texas called, and it was time to answer. Though her children are in upper elementary school, Ashley found her groove as a stay-at-home mom and is not eager to give up the title quite yet. You can find her putting in the miles all over town with her “doggy clients” as a Rover walker and caregiver. (Dogs talk back less than children.) Ashley is often the loudest mom at the ball fields but comes in peace with the best snacks. She recharges with a run around Hurst, a ride on that stationary bike everyone’s talking about, or on a patio with a margarita and her very funny husband. Ashley has written for local mom groups, church and is a returning writer for Fort Worth Moms. Her husband hopes she will stick to more pieces on motherhood and less on disappointing stays at grimy hotels.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here