“I’m going to state what might be an unpopular opinion: family dinners around the dining room table are overrated, unsatisfying, and unnecessary.
I don’t mean all of the time. There is a very special place for them; it’s just that this very special place is called (drumroll please) the weekend. At least with my brood, this is how we roll.
We don’t always have dinner together during the school week, the kids and I.
It’s not lost on me that such a confession might earn me a bit of shiiiiiiiiitake, but still, I’ve got to share because it’s freakin’ real life, and people need to remember that there’s no one perfect way to live it.
My kids and I do not sit around the table every night for dinner.
We don’t talk about the highs and lows of our day while nom-nomming on a hearty, home-cooked, well-balanced, veggies-included meal.
Our Monday through Thursday home life is not what you read about in sweet stories about loving families or the kind you see when you tune in to fake as fudge family ‘reality’ television.
We are not helping each other in the kitchen, laughing at the cooking mess we made, then eating peacefully, chatting happily, enjoying every bite of everything on our plates, and then ending the great meal by cleaning up the table together sans a whine or an argument.
I’m keeping it real with you when I tell you that I don’t eat every meal with my kids AND I’M STILL A GOOD PARENT. A great one, even.
What each of us needs Monday through Thursday, in addition to being fed some sort of nourishment, is to get our homework done, to study for a test, to prep for a test, to talk to our friends, to watch a show, and to decompress however we see fit.
To do nothing and be nothing unless we want to do or be something.
For my crew, when 6:00 p.m. hits, we just want to consume in peace in front of the TV, with our laptop, or while on our phones, and disconnect for a bit.
Because for most of the day leading up to this point in the evening, we’ve been connected. If not to each other, to others. If not to our job, then to our school work. If not to our school work, then to our housework. If not to our housework, then to some inner work.
And if any of that hasn’t swamped us, then we’ve likely been dealing with some sort of crap that every seemingly ordinary day throws at us.
The us that is motivated but tired.
Happy but tired. Engaged but tired. Fulfilled but tired.
The us that loves our family but doesn’t love feeling suffocated by it. And so eating a meal, while not surrounded by blood-related others eating their meal can feel like a nice, much-needed break.
So tonight, my son ate with his friend, my littlest with her Chromebook, headphones, and the cast of iCarly, and my oldest while on the phone with her bestie as they tackled some homework.
Sometimes they eat in the car on the go, and sometimes I tell them to go wherever they please in the house to eat their meal.
Me? I eat on the couch when everyone is in bed ’cause that’s my preferred place and time.
So, yeah, Monday through Thursday, we don’t have ‘family dinners,’ but that doesn’t make us any less of a caring, successful, and ‘all-in’ family.
I dare suggest that NOT subjecting my kids to my presence at all times is exactly what they want and a bit of something they need, too.
And then, on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, we have our meals together.
In addition to as much chicken wings, fries, and steak as we can drown ourselves in, we soak up the presence of each other, which, as it turns out, is usually enough to tide us over until the following weekend.
I know this might be an unpopular opinion. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not entering a popularity contest anytime soon.”
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