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February 22, 2011

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I think it's this line: "When I think that in the early days of our romance I wooed her by cooking, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that she is the victim of one of the greatest bait-and-switch schemes of all time."

Even with me home full time, our house is not a paragon of cleanliness and sometimes we just eat leftovers--or breakfast for dinner. Cooking and cleaning aren't all they're cracked up to be. :)

We discovered that trying to have dinner together was too stressful. My husband often gets home late. The kids were tired and cranky and the dinners weren't enjoyable. Now we almost always have breakfast together. It helps that we are all early risers. The kids are up by 6-6:30. We make a pot of tea, read the paper, then make eggs or pancakes. We often light candles. On mornings that we know will be busy, I put a pot of steel out oaks to soak overnight and heat them in the morning. We all leave around 8:30, so we get a solid 2 hours of pleasant family time. We do try to reserve Sunday nights for a family dinner.

I have to comment on the idea of a parent at home. After being at home, being at work, and now back at home again, I have to say that I would love to see our society move back to the equivelent of one parent at home. I'm not at all suggesting that women should be at home. Mom at home. Dad at home. More work from home. Both parents with half-time or even three-quarter time jobs. Switching it around to complement everyone's strengths. There is a definite benefit to being home when the children get home. Being available for homework. Being there when they have questions about life. Slowing down so we can spend more time as a family. Two traditional full time jobs make that very difficult. I don't know if our society will get there. There is such an emphasis on having more "stuff" that it takes a concerted effort to say I want more joy and less stuff. We can do it, of course, but we have to make that a priority.

Anna, that bait and switch line got me thinking. How many of us are still the people our spouses thought they married? I know mine, for one, never guessed that I would become quite so obsessed with cooking.
Nancye, I love that you all have created a breakfast tradition. It sounds wonderful. I think breakfast is my favorite meal (although I'd really rather not have to choose) and I wish that we could have breakfast together. But in order to get home at a reasonable hour, one of us is up and out the door before dawn. And yes, yes, yes, to your idea of part-time work and parenting for all. That would be my ideal.

It's funny - eating together is a priority, not just to be together, but because I know in a few short years (our oldest is 9), it's going to be all but gone. I feel like I'm trying to force as many meals together as I can before there are the HUGE amounts of homework to do in high school, the sports or the band practice that the coach says can't be missed or the child can't play in the next game/concert, the fact that friends become more important in our children's lives as they navigate the tricky waters of social circles... So, while I love the meals (we, too, have work schedules that allow BOTH of us to be home at dinner time. We are blessed, I know.), I sometimes feel a little sadness, too, that someday they won't be what they are now. How wacky is that??? And, honestly, I don't sweat what I'm making... if my kids don't go to bed hungry, I feel like I've succeeded. If that means they had a PB&J with an apple and some chips, so be it. As long as the bread is whole wheat! ;) Love your blog!

I didn't realize it wasn't normal to eat together every night until I was in high school! I think what made it happen was delegation and organization- big batches of easy to heat n eat later foods over the weekend, and having the kids set the table and get drinks while dad grilled outside and mom made the nightly salad or veggie side- everyone had a job and then we sat and talked about our days, reconnected as a family. I don't think this should be optional, and if breakfast works better then great, but figure out what is important to you, organize, delegate, and enjoy.

Anne, our oldest is 11, and I completely sympathize with that bittersweet tug. We have to cherish these golden years when our children still enjoy our company. I'm hoping, though, that we're laying a foundation that will make family meals part of the routine so that we continue them through those teenage years.
TT, what a beautiful image that is of everyone working together to get dinner on the table!

We are into the years where we have an often-sullen teenager who definitely DOES NOT want to eat dinner with us anymore. We still insist on family dinner, but we find that if we don't allow her to leave the table as soon as she is finished eating, she will exhibit behavior designed to insure her immediate dismissal from the table. Sigh. Better than abandoning the family dinner altogether, I guess...

Gina, that is what I'm dreading! We have to hang on to these years when our kids still enjoy our company (most of the time anyway). Good for you for keeping the family dinner going, though.

I think a family meal becomes the glue that keeps everyone together. Any given meal is rarely idyllic at our house, with lots of spilled milk, and naughty behavior, but overall the time together is well worth it. I am counting on laying the foundation now so when my kids are teenagers, they just won't know anything else and have no choice but to go with it -- probably overly optimistic, but I'm still counting on it!

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