The Fruit-Bearing Tree

Posted on October 15, 2020Comments Off on The Fruit-Bearing Tree

I stand at the granite surface of the kitchen island, chopping kielbasa into coins and feeding dry spaghetti noodles through each smoky disc for a dish in progress for dinner. A lone fly buzzes around, hoping for a taste of the meat, but I wave him away. I’m hacking the recipe from one of my 11-year-old’s favorite cookbooks in a manner that saves no time, but proportions smoked sausage and pasta noodles perfectly. Aiming my words at the smartphone balanced on my 32oz. green plastic tumbler, where I am recording an audio text to someone, I say something I have never said before: “My insecurity hurts you, but it’s not about you. It’s a deep-rooted weed. It’s a plant growing in the wrong place. God is helping me uproot it in this season, but it’s a messy process.”

The image of a diseased tree grows in my mind as we sit down to dinner and load really good pasta onto our plates.

After dinner—the only meal regularly staged at the kitchen table—I’m overwhelmed. That table is a lot after dinner.

The baby’s high chair is pushed to face the southeast corner of the table, between Mama and Daddy. Rather than watercolor smears on the dark wood together with notebooks, books, our butcher paper dispenser, Post-its, pencils, scissors, and succulent plants in glass containers, there are now crumbs, relish, corn kernels, and broccoli stems littering the table. The sun is going down and taking the rest of my energy with it. The pasta is mixed in with plates, silverware, and half-empty cans of soda and sparkling water, and it’s all sucking the life out of me. My husband is anxious and fretting for freedom too. He’s itching for respite after being on call all day with the double doors closed and monitors staring at him expectantly.

We stand at the table, trying to decide who will finish it all up in the next hour—Who will wash dishes and put things into Tupperware and scrape plates into the garbage and load the dishwasher and take out and replace trash bags? Who will be responsible for the baby? Who will run baths? Who will face the complaints and downcast expressions that inevitably follow the bedtime announcement?

I’m momentarily paralyzed. This happens every day. It’s no one’s fault, I tell myself. He’s working from home, not having a party. We’ve both been working our butts off. [READ THIS ESSAY IN ITS ENTIRETY on the Kindred Mom Blog.]