When I was a kid, we had a more or less open door policy at my house. As an only child, I think my mom was hyperaware of how important it was for me to make strong bonds with friends because I had no brothers or sisters around to torment, uh, I mean, keep me company.
Because of that, from as far back as I can remember, our front door was wide open and there were always at least a few extra pairs of sneakers in the front hall.
To the same tune, all of my friends knew exactly where the Miracle Whip was in my fridge and where our spare key was hidden under the porch.
I guess you could say that growing up, my house was like a second home for a lot of people.
My mom hosted just about every major holiday and special occasion you could find on a calendar. In fact, I think she just made some up for fun. I always had the sense back then that our house was the epicenter of the world. And I loved it.
There was nothing like that feeling of having my friends call my mother “Mom.” It meant they loved being there. And that was a beautiful feeling.
Because my house was always so jam-packed with people, I never felt alone. Not for a minute.
Even then, as a self-centered teenager — yeah, I admit it — I consciously recognized and appreciated always having people around. It made the house feel alive with energy, and that was an infectious feeling.
My mom seemed to always be either baking or cooking or shopping. The way I remember it, she was always either on her way to or from the market.
I often wondered when she actually slept. It wasn’t until years later, when I had my own kids, that I realized she didn’t. No mom does.
Food and people equal love. Plain and simple. My mother knew that. So, we were always fully stocked with both.
I think it’s fair to assume that a good majority of everyone’s happy memories somehow, in some way, involve food or people or both. Birthdays have cake, Thanksgiving has turkey, Easter has ham, the Fourth of July has beer. The list could go on for miles. The one common denominator being food. And the people to eat it.
It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I fully realized what kind of an impact it had on me, watching my mother host everything.
All those memories of everyone always getting together under our roof left a serious mark on me. That penchant she had for opening our house up to everyone had a direct and powerful influence on how I’ve raised my own kids. My mother-in-law was the same way, so it’s all my husband and I have ever really known. Consequently, it’s all our kids have ever known.
I don’t think any of us would trade the slave labor it takes to cook 100 meatballs, four gallons of red sauce, 10 pounds of pasta, 10 loaves of garlic bread, 13 dozen brownies, and a builder’s acre-worth of Caesar salad just to have the cross-country team over for a quick bite.
It’s a haul, for sure, but any parent who has hosted a team dinner or Thanksgiving or a birthday party or playgroups knows that the joy it gives our kids far outweighs the bursitis we get from carrying in eight grocery bags at a time from the car.
OK, well, it’s almost worth it anyway.
Lisa Sugarman lives on a tiny peninsula, just north of Boston, with her husband and two daughters. She writes the nationally syndicated humor column “It Is What It Is” and is a regular contributor on LittleThings.com, Hot Moms Club, BeingAMom.life, GrownandFlown.com, Mamalode, and Care.com. Lisa is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety (Years 5-8): 18 Myths that Have You in Knots-And How to Get Free. If you want more Sugar, visit her at LisaSugarman.com and on Twitter. Click here for an exclusive offer to order her book Untying Parent Anxiety.