I’m asked if I plan the baking activities along with books we read. Sometimes I do, like one of our favorite baking/ book duos, “sun bread” on rainy days inspired by the book Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven. More often than not though we read and are inspired by a book and we just roll off the couch and make “stone soup” or baked goods from the story. Many of our days revolve around cooking and baking, so it all flows naturally that our favorite books would lead us to the kitchen.
Recently we read The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor, an absolute favorite of mine and if you don’t know it, read it! Like other books, after we read it we found our way into the pantry checking to see if we had the ingredients to make sugar snap cookies- the baked good that sits atop “the table where rich people sit.” This book, like others by this marvelous author moves me very deeply. It tells the story of Mountain Girl who gathers her family for a meeting to discuss their lack of money, their poverty. Mountain Girl thinks she is the only one who has any sense in the family and goes on to suggest her parents get real jobs, work in offices and then maybe they won’t be so poor. Her parents then outline the value of their life in monetary terms, say working outdoors, that’s got to be worth $20,000? How much more for hearing the coyotes howl? Sunrises and sunsets? Being together everyday? And so on.
Before the girls were born, Stephen and I worked together. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Driving in to school, sharing our lunch, checking in with one another throughout the day and then heading home. All together. After the girls’ birth, I found that separation from him so difficult– we were apart all day and it felt so wrong. Mondays are still so trying. Tuesdays and Wednesdays too. Yet, it is normal and typical and surrounds us. We were unique in working together back then, not the norm.
My decision to remain home, ultimately homeschooling and leaving a job I truly did love, a second income, outside recognition and all the defining elements that go along with a career has not always been easy. It is accompanied by some heavy baggage — financial being just one. Re-framing is necessary to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing! Sometimes it is hard to put to words since it is a calling beyond explanation. My inner compass has not wavered on this decision at all. The outer compass, influenced and shaped by the world I live in and my past, has challenged the decision. More money? Security? Health insurance?! My own life? A bigger home? My own upbringing, inundated with financial difficulties (to say the least) haunts me. Am I being responsible? Shouldn’t I just get A JOB?!! Ahhhh! Maybe Mountain Girl is right…
Stephen and I discuss our need to work toward finding that balance. Let’s not get pulled in to the financial burdens of a bigger home or a second car. Let’s work this one income out, comfortably, by making the right decisions for us- following this path! Let’s have the afternoons and the summers together. How can we continue to not only value, but reach for the non-monetary benefits of this scenario?
Reading this story, my inner compass is strengthened– like a reassuring friend reminding me of what’s important. The value, the riches, the WEALTH we have in our lives may not stack up behind the $ sign, but are seemingly infinite and amorphous, impossible to pin down or capture because they tally up by being together everyday. Having time together and the freedom we have each of those days to bake cookies, picnic in the snow, make Japanese food together and serve it on little plates, ride the carousel (again and again), dance in the wind, hike up a canyon, enjoy the view after, write our name in the snow, brush a friend’s horse…
And if this doesn’t work out, I tell Stephen we’ll go panning for gold. We’re in Colorado after all.