Growing up we always ate dinner relatively early and we always ate it together. At least as long as we were all home and not scattered about at hebrew school or activities. Maybe we ate early because of the activities. I can’t really remember – and it’s been a long time.
I’ve always thought dinner was important. Even if it was a quickly ordered pizza it was still a time for everyone to sit down, take a moment, talk and eat. Sometimes the conversation is fun and silly. Sometimes they are tough or strained. But, whatever the case, it was a time for everyone to sit.
I like to cook – and most of the time I’m damn good at it. There was always something fairly ritualistic about cooking dinner to me. The search for the perfect recipe. The twist to make it a little different. Shopping for the right and best ingredients. A sharpened knife. The prepped ingredients. Music playing (always) and the occassional dance in the kitchen. (Pretty sure shaking your ass while sauteeing helps the flavor a LOT.) Plating the food and serving it to big smiles and eyes – and sometimes the occassional, “What is this?” (Try it, kid. Expand your palette. You’ll thank me later.)
But then some things happened. Food allergies. The way food went from pure pleasure and adventure to having to be thought about constantly. The analytical “what’s in this” to make sure it wasn’t going to try to kill me. The missing of flavors. It’s like some of the joy of it just… left.
The hardest part of dinner is we don’t all get to enjoy it together any longer – and this really gets to me. Husband’s office is not near where we live. And even if it was, the office constraints keep him there later than the kids schedule may allow. So most nights we three sit and eat. I try to manage the silliness and bickering and attempt to teach them how to carry on a conversation, but still, it’s just we three.
This isn’t what I would choose. This is not how I want to model life for the kids. I don’t want them thinking this is the way it should be for their own families. There are days it feels lonely – even with two loudmouths eager to slurp noodles through pursed lips instead of using their forks. I don’t cook for two any longer. Cooking is now as disjointed as dinner and looking forward to the not so distant future I know this will only get worse. Hebrew school has started for Leah. Activities will begin to creep into evenings. This time of being able to sit down together will be fewer and far between.
We’ll try to make accomodations – move dinner back a little, maybe bedtimes, too, in the hopes of finding a little more time in the evening. We’ll try to capture a few more “Guess what happened at school today, Mommy?” and hopefully a lot of “We talked about something cool today in school.” For now we eat together on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. Hopefully that can change with a few adjustments.
I hope so. I miss dinner.