A Dinner Update

It’s been a month since I last posted to this blog, and a very eventful month. Life unfolds in tiny ways, day by day, but the last thirty days have included what seem like pretty big changes around here. Kindergarten, job changes, babysitters, boot camps. I love turning over new leaves in the fall.

And here’s the biggest news of all: family dinners. Eating as a family is something I’ve meant to do all along, but I just never got around to it. For a while, John was eating at 5:00 and that was too early. Even after he pushed it back to 6:00, it felt much easier to put something fast in front of him and wait until later to eat like grown-ups. Or maybe I was being lazy. Or maybe just had a bad habit. But I believe in the value of eating together, and I was determined that with the start of school, it was finally time to make that happen.

I’m a month in, and here’s what I can report: trying to put an entire meal on the table at 6:15 makes me feel like my head is going to explode. I’ve got about 15 or 20 minutes to cook something (anything!) and more often than not, we need two versions of one meal. (John’s still at a point where he eats plenty of good food, but not when it’s mixed together. So: we have pasta with prosciutto and peas, John has pasta. And peas. Not touching.) While I’m cooking I usually have John and Matt both circling the kitchen like predators moving in for the kill. I have to give out hors d’oeuvres to hold them off.

Without stopping for breath I throw three plates on the table just before things simmer over. We sit down, thank all the farmers who grew us the food, and about three minutes later, we’re done. Off go the boys for bathtime, and I clean up the mess I just made. It’s exhausting, it’s a whirlwind, and it gives me an even greater sense of respect for the parents who do this well and with ease. While the quality of our mealtimes has improved, I’m not sure if I can say the same for the quality of our actual meals.

Still, I think we’ll stick with it. Dinner time is now the one time of day when Matt, John and I are all in the same place at the same time. We all get a chance to share something about our days and hear what everyone else is thinking about. I have a feeling that as John gets older and schedules get busier, this will matter to me even more. I already wonder how we did without it.

[Related from the New York Times today.]

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