invited to the table

Vietnamese cucumbers

The only thing I want to write about today is love.

Lu has fallen in love with Beauty and the Beast lately. We showed her the movie for the first time last week and she has been pretending to be Belle since. At least once a day, she puts on the pink princess dress we found at the thrift store for 50 cents, grabs my childhood copy of volume 11 of the Charlie Brown ‘Cyclopedia, and walks back and forth on the porch, talking out a story. Just like Belle, she turns to the imaginary Gaston, the vain and vapid man who is traditionally beautiful, tells him to go away because he’s not right for her, and turns on her heel to walk away.

Yesterday, she said to me, “Mama, I am spunky. And I am weird.” (We talked a lot the other day about how the villagers think Belle is weird because she likes to read and dreams of another life than the one planned out for her.) And I told her, “My love, that’s great. And true.”

This morning, as we were driving her to her day camp, she said to me, “Mama, why does Belle love the beast?” (Think what you want about Disney movies but watching this movie has sparked a barrage of fascinating and important questions in our kid.) I thought for a moment, and then I said, “Well, he’s kind to her, after he changes. He needs some time to soften but then he learns how to love by loving her. He builds her a library. She likes that.” Lu nodded at that. Like me, she loves the scene in the huge, endless library. “And she seems to know he needs someone to love him. He does a lot of kind acts for her. That’s why she loves him.”

Lu nodded, then she said, “Is that what love is? A lot of kind acts?”

I nodded, gulping back the tears. Yes, my love. It is.

Our kiddo? It’s pretty clear that she loves boys. She loves all people but her eyes light up when a bright-eyed boy walks by. Even when she was three months old, her eyes followed the sight of a male waiter walking by us in a restaurant. When she was a little baby, we used to talk to her all the time. (Man, you just talk all the time when they’re newborns.) Danny and I both remember saying to her, when she was six weeks old and the love we had for her already threatened to burst open our chests: “Sweet pea, whoever you fall in love with, boy or girl, we don’t care. As long as you love fully and that person loves you back fully, we don’t care who it is. We want love for you.”

We want love for her. And today, love won.

I’m often puzzled by how people divide food into little separate camps. I’m on the Paleo diet. I’m a vegetarian. I only eat local food. I eat only organic. I’m grain-free. I don’t eat dairy. And some of us use these labels as a way to hate the ways of other people who eat differently than we do, fighting the way that others eat. I love food. I love all food, even the foods I don’t eat. I have a choice. I have a chance to choose the food I eat. Sometimes I love pork cracklings and sometimes I love asparagus salad and sometimes I love dates drizzled with honey and sometimes I love fried eggs and sometimes I love half a ripe avocado with sea salt and sometimes I love roasted cauliflower and sometimes I love cucumbers with fish oil cilantro fresh basil and lime. (Thank you, David Tanis, for the inspiration for that dinner.) The only thing that matters to me is that all this food, this food I love, the love we share for good food, is what gathers us all to the table.

That’s what I hope for Lucy. I want her to live in a land where everyone is invited to the table.

Today was a damned fine start.

Thank you to Macklemore for this song and the inspiration to write this post.

19 comments on “invited to the table

  1. karimadee

    And again I say AMEN!
    Beautifully written.

    Let’s Eat
    Just show you God’s menu?
    Hell, we are all
    ~ Hafiz

  2. Bake

    Oh what a lovely post! Brought tears to me eyes, that’s what these kiddos do.
    Curious to know what song you mean, the link isn’t quite right?

  3. Chelsea

    This just made me grin so, so wide. This is what I hope for too: a table full of love, where there is room for everyone’s chair.

  4. Janice

    Thank you for sharing that song and for focusing on the most important part of all of this, love. How anyone can think more love in a world filled with so much anger and violence could be wrong is beyond me. More love, all love, is always a wonderful thing.

  5. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I’m with you on the love, but also on the Disney. Anyone who sneers needs only to listen to the Gaston song from B & the B: “No one plots like Gaston, takes cheap shots like Gaston, no one persecutes harmless crackpots like Gaston.” It’s a lyric you have to admire, along with “I use antlers in all of my decorating.” It’s a smart, smart movie.

    1. shauna

      Oh Tamar, I love that you quoted these lyrics. I was laughing so hard the first time we watched the movie. The good ones are the for the adults as well.

  6. Amy

    I love this. The parts about love (and the parts about food…such a lesson I’m working to learn). Gorgeous writing. And hooray to love winning, for always.

  7. Alison | a girl defloured

    Thank you, Shauna. Our children love without question & without judgement until someone instills it in them. I am happy that my kiddos are confused that gay marriage is an issue…even more happy that no matter what, equality continues its forward march regardless of what anyone thinks.

  8. Ouma

    This blog post really connected personally to how I feel in my life right now. I’m a young college student, with a lot of food-allergies and gluten-sensitive, and sometimes it seems like people believe that I choose to eat this way for the hell of it. Then I meet other foodies and health nuts and it’s like they always want to preach about the ‘one right way to eat’. At times I find myself feeling bad for eating gluten-free grains when it appears that no one eats grains anymore. I need a baked good at times and I’m not going to feel bad for eating what makes me feel happy. I’m exactly like you; I say eat what you love and what loves you back.

  9. Michelle

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I frequently think about what my nine year old son’s life will look like when he is grown, who he will love, what his family will look like. I don’t know if he will “come out” as gay. I suspect he will be closer to my own experience of slowly realizing that he is bisexual. What I know for sure is that I want him to always know that he is loved and cherished no matter what.

  10. mark

    This post put a smile on my face when there was not one before. eating in community is so important. For a long time until, family medical issues arose, my wife and I would always host thanks giving at our house. our long standing policy was that no one was ever turned away. always ran out of chairs at our table for 30 but they kept on calling and we kept on saying come on over. I was always so thankfoul to be able to share that day of thanks with so many people. we all ate different foods , we laughed, we cried , we enjoyed each others company, but most importantly we always LOVED to open our home to all the had no home to go to. The best Part of it all was all the LOVE we all shared and spread through out our community. A couple of years ago I was part of team that built LOVE. we built a 16 foot tall x 60 foot wide metal statue of the word LOVE .here is a link if your intersted in seeing it. it is now at a winery in Santa Rosa, Ca where people are getting married in front of Love every weekend.

    Thanks for such a wonderful post today!!


  11. mark

  12. Sarah

    My first thought on reading your post was “Amen!” so it was funny to open the comments and see that as the first post! So, I’ll say it again–Amen! And yes–have had that Macklemore song on the brain. So apt, so true.

  13. Cari

    Such a lovely and deeply resonating piece for me personally. I have to say that one of the most important observations here in this movement has been the relentless work and support of our straight allies, you two included in that support!!! While I am celebrating wildly and planning a legitimate wedding there still remains huge gaps and we are far from equal so our work is not done. 39 states remain and even thought DOMA is dead it does not provide for us to move from state to state and keep our benefits. We still have huge gaps in gay and lesbian employment and housing benefits in many states and the transgender community is far behind. Our work is far from done. That being said the progress in the past 6 years in and of itself is simply historic! We are on a trip with our 18 year old out niece who did not know what Stonewall was. Her generation and the ones to follow her will probably not know the history of our people and the fight we have taken. They will know and grow up in a kinder more equal world than I did which is actually bittersweet. Thank you both for your steadfast support and love.

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