The Unraveling of Dinner

by Laura on February 6, 2018

in Blog, Jan29, Partaking


I’m exhausted, not really hungry, and pretty darn cranky; but Keely asks, ‘Will you eat dinner with me, Mommy?”

I agree to, and realize that I have another daughter in the house, and ask her if she’d like to join us. It would be a quick meal; Keely is off to dance in 20 minutes, and I’m waiting to hear from Grayson as to when baseball practice is over so I can quickly drive him to his 6 pm guitar lesson (which I’m beginning to wonder if he will make it in time).

As three of us appear in the kitchen, the dinner table is empty. There are no place mats, bowls, cups, silverware – I ask them to fetch their own and serve themselves from the meal sitting on the stove. It isn’t usually this way.

We sit down, and quietly begin eating. No words between us.

Keely is the first to brave a few words. “We must all love the dinner because it is so quiet now. Thanks for making a delicious meal,” she says to me.

I nod and give her a quick smile, but I know that the quiet isn’t because it is delicious, it’s because I’m exhausted, annoyed, and just plain stressed out with all that is going on in our lives. And the kids know it.

My phone sits on the table beside me, awaiting the call from Grayson telling me he’s ready for pick-up. I’m bracing myself for his complaint, as he’ll have to wait 20 minutes until Addie is finished with swimming – I can then pick them both up at the same time.

Nicole spots a book sitting at the other end of the table, reaches for it, and begins to page through it.

In between bites, Keely lies down on the kitchen bench and begins to stretch.

I ask her to sit up and suggest to Nicole that she should close the book, but I continue to glance at my phone for any notification that I must get back into the car and maneuver kids around town.

We’re breaking all the dinnertime rules.

Aside from being a family favorite (Risotto and Pork Ragu – thank goodness they’ll be no complaints), the only thing I got right about this dinner is that it is one that can be made ahead of time, and kept warm throughout the evening to serve the family during our scattered evening schedules. That’s what Monday dinner is all about – we have baseball, dance, music and swimming schedules to contend with, making us grab dinner is spurts, and eat with whomever is home at the moment.

This Monday was no different, except  Greg is out of town, which means all the whip cracking, driving, and fielding complaints fall on my shoulders. (Yes, there’s more stuff going on, but no need to bore you with our full slate of worries . . .)

In the quiet, as I sit at the table with my 2 girls, each of us in our own little worlds, I realize that something is really wrong with this dinnertime scenario. Tonight, I plugged through making dinner only because I knew I needed to feed the kids. I just needed to get beyond it, with the kitchen cleaned up, and the kids moving towards bedtime. Tonight, dinner was a chore. Tonight, eating together was a chore. Tonight, I let outside forces overtake our sacred dinnertime tradition.

I know that this dinner wouldn’t be as pathetic if Greg were home. But he is out of town for another day, and I found myself in overdrive, trying to plow through the things that needed to get done so that I could put on my pjs and slip into bed, and hopefully drift off to sleep quickly, where I could escape the day’s worries.

Enjoying dinner together takes a commitment — one we usually adhere to. If Greg were here, the book, the phone, and the stretch would not have even been a thought, but my exhausted, I-just-don’t-care-right-now”attitude has let them creep into our ‘sacred’ dinner space.

When these little traditions begin unraveling, my kids notice. A wave of guilt rushes over me. They enjoy time spent around the dinner table, reconnecting with the family, being silly, sharing stories of their day. I like it, too. I need the time to stop everyone from moving around., to focus on our family as a whole, and to laugh and share together.


Tuesday morning has arrived and I press the reset button.

I’m still cranky, but at least I dragged myself out of bed to get in an early morning swim, in the hopes of diffusing some of the negative energy.

Breakfast is enjoyed together, even if it is only cereal.

Lunches are made, and kids are sent off to school.

I make some coffee – later than usual – but feel the need to drink a cup so I can reset my mood, and ready for today’s challenges.

I check my menu planner and see that I have Lemony Herb-Grilled Shrimp scheduled for the evening’s meal.

I then check the activities for the evening, and realize things are a bit less hectic at dinnertime this evening.

Tonight’s dinner may not be a favorite of two of the kids, but at least I know that they’ll be happy when we all sit down together to enjoy the meal. Well, maybe not all together just yet. Greg will be on a plane headed back home this evening, missing family dinnertime.

I mentally check the calendar for the rest of the week, trying to figure out when we’ll all be together to enjoy a meal.

Wednesday will find us scattered about with dance, swimming, baseball and a music performance.

Thursday it’s dance and Boy Scouts keeping us from eating together.

Friday night another music performance . . .

Saturday. Yes, Saturday it is! Pizza and movie night with the family  . . . one of our favorite traditions. Right now, all is set for us to reconnect and enjoy this tradition together . .  That is, unless Mr. High School makes plans to spend the night hanging with his friends.

If that is the case, then Sunday dinner it will be. I will do my best  to enjoy it, because come Monday, things may just start unraveling once again!



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