Family Dinners Revisited

Gruel, Spam and beans again tonight? You're neat!
My husband was home this weekend, for the first time in two months. For two-and-a-half days, we were like a traditional family, two parents, three kids with a collection of broken electronic equipment lined up waiting to be fixed, a dog, dinners at the kitchen table - you’d have thought the Cleavers stepped out of a time machine and moved to Kentucky. I was even wearing dressy clothes today. The only things missing were an apron and a jigsaw puzzle going on the dining room table.

In the 13-some weeks that he has been gone and I’ve been functioning as a single parent, we haven’t had one single meal at a table, with the exception of Easter dinner. At dinner time, which in our case is anywhere between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., depending on who had track, who had a music lesson, and who forgot she was the mom and was responsible for feeding minor children, we fill plates from the stove or directly out of the microwave, my son grabs a Gatorade, my daughter grabs a can of Coke, and we scrunch up around the kitchen counter, hovering over our plates and aimed at the TV. It’s pathetic. 

In my defense, let me say this: a) We say grace, even if it’s “Thank you, God, for this . . . this . . . I mean, thank you again for the dinner from last night, that we’re so happy to heat up and have again tonight.” and b) it’s temporary. I’ve been a parent long enough to know that bad habits can be broken and changed just as easily as good habits. I can stop the cycle of macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, Subway, Chinese take-out, grilled cheese, Campbell’s vegetable soup and bagels tomorrow if I wanted to. I just don’t feel like it right now. 

As soon as we’re all living under one roof, I’m going to start cooking regular dinners.  We’re going to start using napkins again and I’m definitely going to break out the pots and pans. A good dusting and they’ll be good to go.