How I Learned to Love My Kitchen
Learning to accept what I cannot change (about my kitchen).
Three years ago I was driving in my car when I heard a voice in my head plainly say, "Look up a house." That might seem weird, but it was so direct and clear, I obeyed.
By this time I had been casually looking for a house for about a year. We had a beautiful home on a mountain with 3 acres that was situated on a dead end street. Our neighbors owned several hundred acres and our house was surrounded by dense forest. We had redone about every room on the inside of our home (buy a house, fix it up...that's how we roll), so it was beautiful. Our home had two huge rooms for entertaining, a living room and a family room, both with wood burning fireplaces.
The problem was that the bedroom and bathroom situation was getting too tight. There were 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. It would be ok for a regular sized family, but we already filled them with the four kids we had already (our older daughters were sharing one bedroom) when we had another baby girl and then adopted two little boys. It was a tight squeeze with 9 people and only 2 bathrooms.
The other problem with that house was the kitchen. The layout needed to be reworked. We had given it a face lift, but it really needed more than that, it needed to be remodeled. The cabinets were old, the counter tops were ugly, and the floor tiles were coming up. And I just wanted more space!
Ever since the first real home of my own I dreamed of a big kitchen. The first house we lived in was a rental home and it had the ugliest kitchen you could imagine. It had two different kinds of cabinets (not in a good way) and one set of the cabinets were metal that were dented and made by ACME. Even though I watched Bugs Bunny as a kid, I never knew ACME was a real company, but apparently it is. I think an anvil had been dropped on these cabinets. Our next house was the first one we ever owned and it was wonderful, but again had a tiny kitchen. By the time we bought this house with the 3 acres, the dream of having a big beautiful kitchen had been growing in me for years.
Now, back to that day of me driving in the car. That night I went home and looked up houses that would fit us and was in our price range, one of those houses stuck out to me. I showed it to my husband and he agreed it was worth looking into. (That was a miracle in itself, because he wasn't totally on board with moving since we had three kids under 3 at this point! And we only had actually viewed one other house so far.)
So we went and looked at that house and loved everything about it, except the kitchen. It had more bedrooms and bathrooms, had porch that wrapped around it, it was well built, and more land that was so beautiful, but it had a teeny-tiny kitchen that would not fit our family. My husband and I went back and forth with each other about that house for 2 weeks when we finally decided to put in a low offer and see what would happen. And guess what?! It was accepted! Now we were moving. Yikes!
My husband told me that we could fix the kitchen right away since we had the budget for it. Before we even moved in I stayed up many nights looking at kitchen ideas. I couldn't sleep, I was determined that this kitchen would be fixed right away. I had all these grand plans for my new house. Especially because I believed that this is our "forever home", after moving with a bunch of little kids in tow we never wanted to move again!
FINALLY I was going to have the kitchen of my dreams. I could plan it however I wanted, within reason. (Although when I'm up at night thinking about it, the sky's the limit!). My plans were to take a little french country style and mix it with a little farmhouse. It was going to be big and open, with a huge island and plenty of room for people to hang out. It would have a wood burning stove and I wanted a huge farmhouse table! Here are some of my inspiration pictures. (Source)
But then reality set in. We found out our new house needed a well put in, which costs thousands of $$. The kitchen was going to be more than we thought, even with doing it ourselves. The rest of the money we had set aside went to other projects around the house. So it had to wait and I was stuck with this:
Our 11' X 12' kitchen in all its glory! Not my dream by a long shot! Two years went by and I hated this kitchen more and more! I love to bake and cook and it was not always easy in this tiny kitchen, especially when it's for a big family. And I homeschool, so I'm in this kitchen 24/7, cooking most of our meals. I thought about how I could fix it and make it better. I talked about it all the time. I made plans and reworked them constantly, so when the money came in, I'd be ready to fix this thing up. I tried to make it as efficient as possible, making the most of the space I had.
So many times, when we bumped into each other because there's no space, or when the kids were underfoot as I tried to open the oven, or when the food would fall out of the cabinets because there was no storage, I'd look up and sigh and pray for a new kitchen. I couldn't stand it! And then one day, we had a big party with lots of friends and one of my older daughters was giving a tour of our home to a new guest and she said, "There's my Mom's kitchen. She hates it." And it hit me. What if I introduced someone by saying, "This is So-and-So, we hate him." Something was wrong. My attitude needed to change. It got to the point where it was unhealthy and I needed to do something about it. I finally started to realize my kitchen is just the way it is and I either needed to accept it or make myself (and most the people close to me) miserable.
I decided instead of focusing on the problems and the things I didn't have, I needed to be thankful for the things I did have. I have a wonderful family that I get to love and serve through my cooking, we have so much food in the house that it's falling out of the cabinets, I am strong and healthy and have the ability to work hard, I have a space that is convenient and everything is working...and on and on and on. I decided to make a sign to remind myself how blessed I am to have what I have. I hung it over the doorway, so every time I looked up to sigh in frustration, I would see that sign and could check myself and my attitude again.
And pretty soon I started seeing the good things about my kitchen. It was super easy to clean since it was tiny. Also, I don't get so tired working in there because I don't have to walk very far to get what I need. I also got inspired to give it a face lift, which made it so much more beautiful to me. It makes me much happier to work when there is beauty surrounding me. It went from this...
And also these...
I also found this sweet plate at a little shop in town. I hung it up in my kitchen. It has a prayer on it for a tiny kitchen. It talks about loving this kitchen and praying for joy and peace and happiness to be found in this place. It pretty much sums up how I feel!
As I worked on having a thankful heart, and reminding myself how blessed I am, and praying this little prayer when I was frustrated, a change happened in me. I'm not as stressed and frustrated. One day I realized that I not only like, but I love my kitchen! It is a happy place where I get to create a lot of love for my family. I hope that no one says that Mom hates her kitchen anymore. Cause we all know If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy! I don't want it to be that way for me. I don't want my family and friends to see a grouchy and unhappy woman. I hope they see a happy Mama singing and working hard in her kitchen, making delicious things, showing how much she loves them!
Do I still wish for more room? Of course! Does it still need to change? YES! But, in the meantime, I'm willing to wait and I can accept my kitchen for how it is. I still have big dreams and praying those dreams come into fruition, but for now I took lemons and made lemonade. And I'm enjoying it too! I am thankful for the lesson that my little kitchen has taught me.
How about you? Have you ever struggled with being content with something in your life? Have you found ways to overcome it? I hope I'm not the only one! :)