August 5, 2009

Cold Fried Chicken

It's funny the places your mind wanders when you can't sleep or get comfortable in the middle of the night, a frequent and understandable circumstance with me lately. Especially since all three boys stayed at Mimi's last night and everything felt so out of balance and off and like limbs missing again despite the wonderful quiet and calmness this morning.

I found myself thinking about one of my very first childhood friends and staying the night at her house. They had a book-filled shelf in their kitchen and on one of the shelves were two tiny jars that contained my friend's and her little sister's umbilical cord stump. For breakfast one morning we ate cold fried chicken straight out of the fridge and I had never known you could eat fried chicken cold. And it was good. Her parents were cool and drove a Trans Am and let us dance to Prince in the living room and also took us to Dairy Queen one day where I had my very first Blizzard. Chocolate covered cherry. They would go on fun family vacations to Florida (we never went on vacations unless it was to visit family in the hills somewhere) and my Mom would feed their fish and hamsters while they were gone.

One day her parents got a divorce and all I knew that meant was they were moving far away and I never saw her again.

Another friend a couple years later was an only child and she had Guess jeans in every color. She could listen to music in her room with her door closed and even had a tv. Her Mom made tuna sandwiches, which I also had never eaten before, and she would cut them in perfect squares. She would also boil bones on the stove from the Beef Mart for their dog. The house always smelled like boiled dog bones. And one night I slept over but woke up in the middle of the night really homesick and my Mom came and got me.

Later on, her parents got a divorce, too.

I probably would go home every time from those friends' houses and tell my Mom all the cool things they had that I didn't. The things their parents did that mine didn't. And life can always seem more exciting and fun when it's not your house and not your family.

But, looking back, my house was always safe, and I always had plenty. More than enough. I hope my boys, and soon- little girl, feel the same way. I hope our home and our arms are ultimately the only place they truly want to be, in the end. I hope their hearts always have that compass that points to the stuff that really matters.

That's if I ever let them go to a friend's house. We're still working on that.

Originally posted August 31, 2008... a
request from Christy, a kind reader.

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  1. Wow! That story could have been plucked right out of my memory bank.
    I always thought my friends had so much more than me but when it came down to it, I had exactly what I needed at home.
    Great storytelling. :)

  2. oh, i love this post. LOVE it. like if i wasn't sitting here typing to you, i'd stop and cry.
    how i long for the same thing for our girls....that compass. (and i'm not so sure about them going to other houses either.)

  3. A really lovely post. My heart may have wandered but it always belonged at home too.


  4. Every time I read this it makes me weepy. Love it.

  5. This is a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope the same thing for my three boys, that they grow up and know how truly and completely they are loved.

  6. I remember reading this the first time and thinking that your mom was so much like mine. Now that I know her, I know she's definitely like mine. We're both lucky.

  7. I think kids always think that other families are cooler than their own. But in the end they wouldn't want to live with them. I know everyone else thought my dad was super-cool, even though I had a tremendously difficult relationship with him. It's all a matter of perspective.

    And now I want some cold fried chicken. ;)

  8. This is perfect Steph. It's all we can hope for isn't it? To make our homes a safe place for our children? Even if I may not be the coolest Mom, I will always strive to be the one whose home is a refuge from the storms of life.

  9. loved this post.

    Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. Fried Chicken is best when served cold the day after....YUM!

  10. What wonderful memories. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. This post was even better the second time around. :-)

  12. wow, i just came across your blog (via amberrunsamuck's tweet) and i LOVE this post.

    maybe because i'm also due soon with a little girl, but ESPECIALLY because i often think of childhood experiences i had at other homes. and how they felt foreign and magical to me, but probably sounded kinda wretched to my mom when i reported back.

    she kept her trap shut, though, and never tainted my experiences. i hope i have the will-power to do that.

  13. You articulate your thoughts so beautifully. I really enjoyed this post.

  14. I had a friend whose divorced parents lived two blocks apart, so that she could be with each parent a week at a time. I used to think it was so cool that she had twice as many clothes, two bedrooms, twice as many toys ... but all in all I was glad to go home to both parents at once.

  15. What an awesome post, Steph! You tell stories so perfectly. So perfectly...

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  17. The only thing I was ever not jealous of in other friend's homes was their candy (I never had a sweet tooth). But pretty much everything else I was envious about, their color tv, vcr, their now iconic Farrah Fawcett poster and toys of course.

    Turns out it works both ways:)

  18. I had several friends whose parents divorced and I was always so happy to come back to my house and see both of my parents at the dinner table and feel pretty sure that would never change. And it hasn't.

    For instance, my friend Corrie had Atari and we didn't. But then she rarely saw her Daddy...

  19. This is such an interesting thought - I always thought daycares looked like SO much fun, with all the toys and everything, I always begged my mom to send me to daycare & then said "I wish I could've gone to daycare". Now, on this end of my life, I will give up anything to stay home with my son so that he doesn't have to go to daycare. :)

  20. I'm so glad you reposted this because I don't remember reading it and it is very powerful.

    In the end, material possessions matter so little...and love matters so much.

    P.S. We still haven't had our almost-3-year-old spend the night anywhere. We just like having her here with us. Someday soon, though, I know that time will come...


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