These days, it could be any night of the week.
It’s 6pm, halfway through what I call the ‘witching hour’.
I’ve done it all. We went on a walk to the park, we pulled out the play-doh (and put the rock hard nuggets from last week in the trash), built a nostalgic-yet-stupid balsa flyer that I picked up on some road trip along the eastern seaboard. I folded laundry and did the dishes all while running back and forth to the Blu-Ray because each of four movies ‘got boring’ within the first six minutes. We blew bubbles on the deck, collected worms, made (and proofed) soft pretzel dough and even started on designs for a DIY birdhouse that may (or may not) happen.
I text my wife to get her ETA. No response. It doesn’t even say DELIVERED. She’s on the phone – could be 10 minutes, could be an hour.
They’re screaming, fighting and kicking each other – the wheels are coming off quick.
I resort to my go-to move over the last few years and start dinner. The first of two dinners.
I can’t tell if I’ve slipped into a rut with dinnertime or if this is normal.
I’m robotic in my movements, low on energy and up since 5:30am when Mason started screaming.
The whining ensues. “The pieces are too big”, she says. “I hate avocado!” he yells, even though he ate six of them last week. I shuffle over to their plates while staring at the clock – I don’t even use a knife – I just rip pieces of food into shreds and stuff them into their mouths. I’m two minutes shy of doing ‘baby bird’, where I pre-chew items and just drop them into their faces. I’m pathetic.
Perhaps that’s not the right word. Maybe I should give myself a sprinkle more credit. I’m also preparing a second meal, the one that caught my eye in the June issue of Bon Appetite.
I’ve been pulling double-duty for so long now that I can’t see straight.
My wife and I have always said that we would start eating together as a family once Ava started Kindergarten.
It’s going to take some concessions on both sides. I’m going to have to stave the kids off, keep them at bay until she arrives at home from work – and she’s going to have to make her best effort to avoid late hours.
The thought of my daughter (whom I’ve been at home with since she was 10 weeks old) starting her first day of kindergarten in September is a kick to my stay-at-home dad stomach, but I’ve leveled out my hormones in preparation by picking up an old school shaving kit and some baseball cleats, which I’ll probably never wear.
I feel like this parenting landmark needs some pre-game action. I can’t just jump into the deep end during that first week of school – I need to wade in slowly.
So I figured that this week might be a good time to give it a try.
My wife and I conferred on our schedules (her schedule) and came up with a day that worked – a day that she would be able to get home a tad bit early.
The biggest challenge isn’t necessarily getting us all together at the same table at the same time – it’s finding something that EVERYONE will eat.
Do me or my wife want to eat fish sticks and frozen vegetables? Would she enjoy chicken nuggets after smashing away at a 10-hour day? I doubt it – maybe I’m wrong.
So, I prepare. I tell her that ‘I’ve got it covered’.
It’s 6:30pm on a Monday night and all throughout the day, I’ve been telling my kids that ‘we’re having a family meal tonight’, that we’re going to sit together as a family, enjoy a meal and discuss our day.
To my genuine surprise, Ava is extremely excited – perhaps I’ve been stuck in my abyss-like routine too long.
As my wife walks in the door from work, kicks off her shoes at the back door and drops her purse (BIGGEST PET PEEVE) on the floor in the middle of the hallway, she begins to enjoy and understand the moment. She lifts her nose and her eyes go wide, she sees the dining room table (finally utilized) with five place settings.
I lead the kids to the table and Jen meets me in the kitchen.
“You cooked a SPRING RISOTTO WITH FENNEL AND ASPARAGUS for our first family meal?”
“Is your head on straight???”
We get on the same page with telling the kids that ‘It’s just rice with butter and cheese’ and move together into the dragon’s lair.
I’m nervous, as this could be an early indication of the uphill climb that will be family dinners.
The initial spoonfuls are consumed.
That ten seconds of silence feel like an eternity as we wait with bated breath.
They like it… and I’m happy; we’re all happy.
This could’ve been an epic train wreck, but it wasn’t.
We talk about what we did earlier in the day, if we slept well the night before, if anyone had an accident in their bed and how our DIY birdfeeder designs were coming along.
The truth is, maybe we can do this. Maybe we don’t have to commit to every night of the week – maybe just two or three, but it’s a start.
My kids are evolving, they’re growing into young adults and I need to keep up with their pace if I want to have a shot at making this a childhood to remember and I’m committed.
It may not be perfect and the road may not always be so smooth, but this is #HowWeFamily.
I’d love to have you join the conversation and show or tell us how you family on Twitter or Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag #HowWeFamily. I’d love to hear your story!
NOTE: I have received information and materials from McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.