For The Little Pink Kitchen

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You know when Andy leaves the room and the toys can finally talk and process their amount of playtime? If this little pink kitchen had a voice, I think it would say that it’s been weeks, maybe months, since Cozy turned the knobs of the faucet to let the water flow. That its plumbing is rusting from sitting idle. The fridge would long to be opened and restocked with her play essentials for baking. The hinges of the doors would ache to open and feel the movement of creativity and life a little chef brings as she conjures up new recipes. I think the little kitchen would be hanging on the memory of days when a little one in an apron was making full use of the creative possibilities it offers. It would be nostalgic for a time of cake making and tea parties with the dollies and stuffed animals.

We bought this kitchen for Brynn 13 years ago as a Christmas present. It was 200$ which, at the time, might as well have been a thousand. We were so young, and in the red more often than not. It was a big purchase for us. I’m sure that’s why I’m coming to see the surprising connection I have with it and what it represents to me. Why having a little one play with it still gives me the sweet relief of justification for what was such a large investment. I walk by it every day as it sits adjacent to our pantry. I’ve reluctantly noticed its daily use has drastically declined in the past year. To almost non-exsistant. The only action it sees is from the little neighbor girl who wanders in sometimes, or if Darcy comes over with her boys and they momentarily take an interest. Not good enough reason to have it occupy such a prominent space in our home day to day. I suppose its time to move it to the basement where it will collect dust until visitors come or until someday when we have grandchildren. Of course, I’ll never be that old though.

I’ve spoken of selling “that old thing” once Cozy was done with it. The kind of flippant comment you can make when you’re safely in the days of toddlerhood with no end in sight. When it’s just another mess to tidy. A few of the screws are stripped, leaving the doors hanging askew. The little kitchen timer only rings occasionally anymore. It was never great quality. It was a knock-off of the fancy Pottery Barn Kids one. I used to pour over the catalog that would come in the mail and dream of a day that I could offer my kids that kind of life and quality. As if that is a necessity of love and safety and creativity. But I fell for it. Talk about object identification! It’s funny though, as it has sat unused, how my nostalgia has grown. I’m realizing its history and the significant landmark it is to me in my journey of motherhood. Sometimes we don’t even see the attachment to something until time starts to pull it away from our grasp. That’s when we learn what we are holding onto. It tugs at my heart to walk by it anymore. It reminds me that my grains of sand are dropping on my hourglass of having little ones in little bodies.

I was asked the other day in casual conversation with a salesperson if I have children. “Yes. Three.” Then their ages. “Fourteen, eleven and seven.” It caught me to hear the words tumble out of my mouth on autopilot. To realize that it is ME reciting those ages of my BABIES. But, wait! Those aren’t baby ages! Then the heartstrings start to tighten. Oh, yeah. The kids are growing up. And so am I. I can feel the child within that used to occupy my child-size body. How is it that she has little ones who aren’t so little anymore? Even though my adult body doesn’t match the child within, I am very much still her. And she feels like she is losing her grip on her permission to play dolls and remain in childhood. My dolls are changing shape and size just like I did. I’ll be 36 this year and loosing my pink kitchen to disuse, relegated to the basement makes me want to kick and scream and stomp my feet in protest. Life keeps asking me to surrender and go with the flow of its river of change and I keep clawing at the shores. When this little kitchen finally moves location and goes into storage, it will be a small white cross on the side of my life’s road, indicating a time when I had to prune what was dead so that new life could grow in its place. This is how we are the gardener of our lives. Soon I’ll need to get the shears out and face the limited need for the pink kitchen in my life right now. I wanted to write it a little tribute before that day in gratitude for the hours of creativity and imagination and for the warm goodies that once came out of the oven. Now it can rest and patiently wait for a new generation to make full use of its imaginative offerings. Thank you to the little pink kitchen and the bittersweet experience of Motherhood that continues to raise me. Those painted wood boxes have witnessed a lot of growing up.