Dinnertime Now! / Deconstructed Family Dinner

A lot of people I know – okay, I – spend a decent amount of time thinking about how things could be or should be better than they are. It’s a thing, a human thing, a certain kind of human thing, it’s my thing. Whatever. The point is that for this human it’s totally toxic and keeps me from enjoying what is, what is actually happening, feeling grateful about doing what I actually want to be doing rather than what I think (Evie thinks?) I should be doing. Take family dinner. There’s this TV show I’ve been watching where the parents and the adult kids and even the grandkids all get together on Sunday for supper every week, and they also seem to always be up in each other’s business all week long. It’s a TV show, I get it, but it looks kind of nice to me. The getting together for dinner part mostly, at a table, conversing while eating a meal that involves a meat, a veg, a starch, rolls, and family banter.

There’s a lot about that family dinner scene that just doesn’t work for my family, not right now, maybe not ever. Ax can sit at the table, but not very happily for very long. And he, Mike, and I don’t really enjoy the same foods, even when we cook at home. Timing the various things we make for ourselves and our son to come out at the same time is a challenge I’ve kind of given up on, especially since we’re all kind of hungry for dinner at different times too.

When I’ve tried to make dinner look more the way it looks on that TV show we all wind up a little miserable and I get stressed. I’m hungry before stuff is ready so maybe I’ve snacked a lot during prep and now feel food regret, or maybe I’ve tried not to snack and am just hangry.

And then I usually don’t want to eat quinoa and lentils – no matter how wonderful they are – and Mike doesn’t want to eat salad dressing with a lot of vinegar in it, even though that’s how I like it, and Ax is just frustrated because he’s feeling our discombobulation and would really just rather be eating a bowl of peanut butter while watching show. (Yes, he does that. I realize by admitting such I’ve put my crunchy conscious hippy parent card-carrying membership in jeopardy.)

We could make dinner look the way dinner looks on that TV show, but I don’t think we’d be happier than we are. When we are together we get in the pool and chat and play for an hour or so, sometimes more, even on a school night. Pool time is our family dinner.

If it’s late I’ll heat up a cornmeal crust pizza and cut the slices small so we can eat them in the pool without stuff falling off and without interrupting our chats. And voila – family dinner – this is how we do it. This is how I do it. This is my life. I get to choose what’s worth efforting and what isn’t.

For me, the effort I put into trying to see through all my loud ideas, and other people’s loud ideas, about how things should be to get to what really works for my family and me, the way we are, is worth it. I’m going to keep going. It’s dinnertime now!