And here we are: one hundred letters into this journey of motherhood. One of the first letters I wrote to you was called “Everything Is a Letter,” and I do still believe that. But I confess that I also feel a real sense of accomplishment that I’ve hit one hundred in the series.
I thought to mark the occasion I should write something momentous, but, well, nothing momentous happened today.
Like most days.
It started early, long before you woke up. It will end late, long after you go to bed. In the middle there is school and creativity and food and people in our space. It’s a Thursday.
Right now, I’m sitting on our blue-striped couch, with my feet propped up on the little wooden paint-splattered desk we are still using as a coffee table. I have a half-empty cup of tea beside me, and through the archway I am watching the two of you eating a graham cracker snack. You’re listening to your Christmas CD, practicing for the church children’s program, and I’m trying not to grimace at the “for all mankind” lyric in this chipper, upbeat music.
It isn’t Advent yet, girls, but it’s close. Your gratitude pumpkins are still on the table. We’ve got pine cones hanging from the mantle.
Tonight is our theology reading group, so we’ve got soup in the crockpot and bread rising. I tossed some cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut milk into the soup to try to make it seem special and autumnal. I’m hoping the potatoes cook through.
As sometimes happens, I hadn’t planned ahead for the soup, which means that about halfway through the morning when I remembered about our weekly group meeting here tonight,I started looking around to see what we had available. I found onion, sweet potato, regular potato, and a large butternut squash. I grabbed a can of diced tomatoes from the cupboard, frozen corn, and some ground meat from the chest freezer, where we store the half cow we bought from a local beef farm.
While I chopped the vegetables, you worked through your math lesson. I was still chopping when it was time for your spelling quiz, so you sat at the dining room table and wrote out your words while I read them to you.
Because it was taking so long to make the soup, I had a lot of time to think in between my interactions with the two of you. I often tell people that some of my most generative creative time is when I’m doing repetitive and mundane household tasks, especially chopping vegetables. It’s why I don’t listen to music or podcasts during those times. Today was no different. While scrubbing and peeling and chopping and sautéing and thawing, I had an idea for this 100thletter.
And it was all about the soup.
These letters are the soup.
Because the letters, like the life that we’ve made here in this quirky 1950s home, are kind of a hodpodge. They’re made with what we have available. They’re full of the old standbys like potatoes. And like the onions, they make me pull out a tissue. They’re full of surprises like the nutmeg and cardamom. Sometimes the best parts come from tasks I abhor like peeling the butternut squash. Sometimes I get a little preachy and add too much salt. There are glimpses of the extravagant, like a locally raised and butchered cow by a family who knows us by name. And all mixed together, filled right to the brim of the crockpot, the soup cooks slowly. Sometimes I worry that there won’t be enough time before folks arrive to get those potatoes softened. Sometimes I worry that there won’t be enough time, period.
But there always is.
In about an hour from now, we’ll dish it up into bowls. We’ll offer what we’ve got. And it’ll be enough.
Because there’ll be leftovers.
Yep, there’s always more than enough to go around.
Which is what these letters are kind of about, in case you hadn’t noticed.
PS Also, the soup, like life, all goes better with a side of carbohydrates.