I think these thoughts began while perusing the pages of an anniversary edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook. These ideals of the perfect housewife. And the guilt was brewing already. They came rushing back the other day as I scrambled to clean the house before guests arrived, debating on whether I had enough time to wash the dirty dishes or if I should hide them in the oven, and whether or not I should change my clothes into something more 'suitable for company'.
Within a month of saying "I do" I was ready to entertain. I had always enjoyed large groups of people; cooking for said groups of people. Good food and good company were some of the things I loved most about life. I especially loved impromptu tacos after church, conversations that turned into being hungry that turned into a trip to Meijer, that turned into time in the kitchen laughing or digging deep into a friends soul. The good stuff.
But once that ring was on my finger and we had an apartment of our own, I didn't think that's how things were supposed to be done. Oh no. I had to pull out the big guns. You know, the high heels, aprons, and fancy meals that you would usually find on a nice cafe's menu. Between working, finishing up school, and being pregnant I had to find time to polish the silver and iron my husbands shirts. Not really.. . he did the ironing. I tried to once before a show he had and ruined his shirt.
The first dinner party that we had, I spent most of our $50 a month grocery budget to make an antipasto salad, coq a vin, a dessert that I can't remember now (but it is written down in my Betty Crocker cookbook on the page meant to document your first dinner party. Gold star for documentation), and a sangria. Never mind that Jeremy wouldn't eat the antipasto salad due to the olives, nor did he drink the wine, and I hate chicken and was a vegetarian at the time. We subsisted off of ramen, rice, and pudding cups from Walmart the rest of the month.
Life went on like this for a while until we spun 180 degrees in the other direction. Willow was a baby and I was hyper motivated to do what was best in every facet of our lives. We (well, me specifically here), were heavily influenced by friends on the other side of the spectrum. The crunchy kind. So now, not only was I entertaining guests for dinner in an apron on a shoestring, but it had to be organic! local! vegetarian! whole grain! fair trade! and be labeled with a foreign word unpronounceable by my husband. Pretty soon I wasn't entertaining at all because I couldn't afford anything but rice. Probably not even of the brown variety.
Suddenly, I felt forced between entertaining people with inexpensive ingredients that I believed were harmful to one's body and may have caused harm to someone while being harvested, etc. Or giving them a very small amount of food that I could make from our local co-op, that they probably wouldn't even like to eat (I won't elaborate on the lentil soup incident) but would satisfy my conscience. This resulted in me shutting the doors of our home to most people. Mostly out of guilt that I wasn't living up to either ideology.
The funny thing of it all was: I was the only person, in my mind and heart, who had to meet the bar.
People. I don't know where I'm going with this. But the short of it all is this: I love you. I love you all and I want to feed you. I want to talk over tea while our children play (loudly). I hope you aren't offended if I don't have organic food for your kids to eat at my house, or won't judge me if there is a box of Lucky Charms on top of the fridge. Please don't think me a cheapskate when I bring a simple dish to a potluck or compare my idea of a holiday supper to the traditional ideal. If you are at my home I'll probably serve you some sort of deer (or as the kids say "forest cow"), and if I don't have anything else in the house I'll be happy to fry you up an egg or pop you some popcorn. I drink Tazo tea because it tastes good and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg (and a few fingers of the other hand) at the local co-op. My house may be a mess, but I think it will at least be sanitary. My kids will most likely be in underwear and will probably be watching Netflix. I will be in the same jeans I've worn all week because I haven't had the time nor mental energy to search through the piles of unfolded laundry in my basement to get to other ones. Oh wait, I don't own other ones. . . anyway . . .
The truth of it is: I value my relationship with you more than I care about imaginary standards of who we should be, what we should be eating, what kind of toys our kids play with, how much media time our kids consume or any of those other things mothers batter back and forth about. I will not judge you if you are the friend with the sticky toys or the one who refreshes my kids with a pitcher of Kool-Aid, and my hope is that you feel the same.
So come on over- bring hand sanitizer (just kidding :D) and a sense of humor, there will be no heels and no tofu.