My mom’s kitchen is a safe haven. Soft yellow walls and granite countertops are peppered with magazines and to-do lists and art. We live in that kitchen, receipts and mail strewn across the island, stained recipe cards and freshly baked cookies and always a candle. Pictures drawn by my childhood best friends—rather quirky pieces—have been proudly sticky-tacked to the cabinets for at least a decade. The floors are worn from dog paw-plodding and scraping chairs. Picture windows look out onto common ground and rows of trees and families of deer I used to name.  There’s a warm spot on the floor in front of the refrigerator—my favorite spot to think. It’s where I sat and chose a college and cried over my first breakup and held my dogs in my lap when they were puppies. 

We sit in the barstools and sing. We eat glazed orange breakfast rolls and cheesy scrambled eggs, drink the first steaming coffee of the day and the last gulp of wine at night. The garage eases open and my dad comes through the back door with his briefcase, home from a long day of work, but never too tired to greet the two furry wagging tails at his ankles. There is soup in the Dutch oven; a ladle spoons it into our favorite bowls, the ones my parents got as a wedding gift. Familiar music hums through the speaker in the corner as sunlight pours over the collection of plants in the bay window. Bubbles float up from the stainless steel sink as my mom scrubs an endless pile of dishes. 

I hear my friends’ laughter and remember the hours we’ve spent discussing school and books and world travels. The teary goodbyes and equally teary reunions, the countless hugs and lunchtimes of hummus and turkey sandwiches and “Will you stay for dinner” questions always met with a “Yes!” Hands wrapped around a nighttime decaf coffee, conversations at midnight sitting on the counter eating chocolate sheet cake, too caught up in laughter to think about going to sleep at a reasonable hour. 

The older we get, the more serious our kitchen conversations become. We cry over change and mourn life-altering loss, knowing the kitchen is a safe place to fall apart.  We sit and actually plan the weddings we dreamed up in middle school. We mull over all that’s changed in our lives: the broken friendships, the new jobs and apartments, the dreams lost and the historical family drama, and we are understood.  It’s home base, our reset when we all come together from our different corners of the world. And time in my mom’s kitchen reminds us what we’ve known all along: no matter what else in life is shifting, we will always have each other (and unparalleled homemade chocolate chip cookies).  

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Wonderful. I want to visit this kitchen….

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      So true, so insightful, and so tender. You are blessed to have this safe place (and these wonderful parents) from which (whom!) you were launched into the world, and to which you can return.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Olivia,
        This is so beautiful and such a tribute to your mom and to your moms gift of loving well. You are gifted writer!!!

        Reply
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      You are always welcome!

      Reply
  2. Caroline Nyczak

    Wow I love this so much. I could have written this about my own mother’s kitchen. The picture is almost identical. We always sit around the island. There’s always a cheese board. My mom even buys the same brand of wine.

    Reply
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    So thoughtful and absolutely true. You are very fortunate to have this wonderful “safe place”. You are always safe in my heart. Goggy

    Reply
  4. Avatar

    Wow Olivia! What a great write up! As I read it I was taken back to so many great and powerful memories in our home with our thee children.

    I have known your parents for decades and am reminded why I always loved them so much!

    Thank you for sharing a little of your home life and for helping me relive some of our own!

    You hit a home run with this article in my book! Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  5. Avatar

    This is absolutely beautiful! I could picture everything you said! Oh, to be able to sit at my mom’s kitchen counter just one more time!

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  6. Avatar

    What a lovely moving tribute to your parents and the warm home that you grew up in.
    And the cookies sound amazing too!
    You are a talented writer Olivia!!

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    You created a vivid picture of your kitchen and through well chosen details told us a lot about the people who live there. Your skillful words stir our emotions and make us recall, cherish or long for our own places filled with love and safety. Very powerful! You are so talented (and blessed)!

    Reply
  8. Avatar

    Oh my gosh!!! I love this! Such beautiful word pictures! Wonderfully written piece, Olivia!

    Reply
  9. Kyric Koning

    I like how it is “my mother’s kitchen” even though you still play an integral role to its composition.

    Also “The older we get, the more serious our kitchen conversations become.” Oh so true. Life becomes more aware of the importance of these conversations.

    Reply
  10. Avatar

    Olivia, I LOVED reading this. I love the way you describe things so vividly. This article made me tear up. It’s such a beautiful picture of real life, love , and acceptance that your sweet Momma has nurtured. You are all such cool and beautiful people in your family. And you are such a wonderful and gifted writer!!

    Reply
  11. Avatar

    Beautiful and heartfelt and oh, so moving, Olivia! What a gifted writer you are. Your piece scooped me up and plopped me into the warm embrace of that kitchen— and your family, which I’m truly blessed to know. XO

    Reply
  12. Avatar

    Thank you all for taking the time to share these kind words and encouragement! I will treasure all of these comments, and I know my mom will too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Thank you Olivia for sharing your thoughts on growing up in that special kitchen you describe so well. You show Joyce as the wise and loving mother and friend that many of us are blessed to know & to love. Diana

      Reply

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