The Overdue Family Meal Post

Last week I asked my FB page community if they had any requests for a post and Jennifer at Momalom asked me to write about a dad’s take on family meals.

I wrote the post but didn’t publish it because I didn’t like it. It didn’t flow. It was stilted and awkward so I decided to shelve it, but I meant to revisit the post and haven’t.

But I didn’t forget, I just haven’t figured out what angle I wanted to approach it from. As a kid I meal time was interesting. Most nights we would eat together as a family and we’d talk about our day.

If you ask my middle sister she’ll gleefully tell you about all the times I got sent to my room. It didn’t happen nearly as often as she likes to say it did, but it happened plenty. I can’t remember every reason but my father and I would argue about something stupid and eventually he would get tired of my mouth.

Sooner or later he would point at my room and I would angrily storm into it knowing that it didn’t matter whether I ate or not, if my chore for the week was doing the dishes they would still be done.

As a father I have tried to make family meals the same sort of priority and gathering time as when I was a kid, but it hasn’t worked as well as I would like. Schedules are harder now. I can’t count the number of times I have had to work or do something that has interfered.

But Friday nights are a night we almost never miss. It is Shabbos dinner.

Every Friday night the kids get a special blessing. It is something that we have all come to love. Sometimes the kids fight over who gets it first, but they always get it. Blessing my children has become a magical moment and something that I hope they love forever.

Typically we light the candles first, then the kids get their blessing followed by the other weekly rituals, like hand washing, blessings over the wine and challah etc. But what I like best is that quiet moment when I get to listen to them talk to each other.

It usually comes mid meal, a comment or a question from sibling to sibling followed by a series of more comments and questions. I try not to interrupt because this is when I learn about things I don’t know. These soft unguarded moments remind me that my children have a world that is separate from mine

Sometimes it throws me to think that I am not one of the kids anymore. I am dad. I am who they hide secrets from and tell them to. But I love that they have their world and a bond that exists without their parents.

We’ll take credit for helping to establish it but they get credit for making it work. Of course I remind them that they need each other and that there will be moments where only a sibling can help or understand.

English: Shabbat Candles Deutsch: Schabbatkerzen

English: Shabbat Candles Deutsch: Schabbatkerzen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parental Guilt

It is fair to say that I have a healthy dose of parental guilt about the meals and a few other things. That is not to say that I think of myself as a bad father because I am not.

I know that I am a good dad but I am realistic. I could be better and that is part of why I am chasing  some of my dreams so aggressively now. I know when I go to meet  the echoes of the future I am creating opportunity out of possibility and there are numerous benefits in that.

None of us ever get it exactly right, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t try either.

In the interim I suppose that I will keep trying to adjust our schedules so that we have more meals together than we do now.

How about you? When you were growing up did you eat with your parents on a regular basis or was it just an occasional thing.

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  1. bakeforme June 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    We ate dinner together most nights while I was growing up…and the TV was always on. We chatted until my father would yell, “Shh, shh, Israel!!”  and everything would have to stop so that he could hear whatever was being said about Israel. It kind of became a family joke, but that pretty much sums up our family dynamic. My own family’s dinners, especially Shabbat dinners,  were totally different: no TV, and a lot of discussion, and of course, not all of it was pleasant. One thing we did love doing on Shabbat was going around the table to say what our favorite thing of the week was.  When my son was three, he said the same thing every week for a month: “Going to see “Babe” with Mom.” Boy, do I miss those days. Family meals are so important in maintaining the integrity of the family. They really emphasize the family unit. We no longer eat together as a family all that often because we are scattered throughout the country. But when we do, it is still something I know my boys (men) still absolutely love.

  2. jokeypoet June 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    @2GirlsOnaBench @TheJackB She watched him walk into the dark
    And felt a silent chill
    She held her baby, locked the…..

  3. CrossBetsy June 27, 2012 at 5:10 am

    We ate as a family with both parents until we moved when I was 5 and my dad started to travel. Then my mom made nightly meals until we moved again and my sister started high school. By then my parents were divorced. My mom was working full-time and we learned to cook for ourselves. We all missed the ritual of sitting down together. 
    The world goes so fast these days. Schedules leave little time for the rituals that bind us. 
    Thanks for the reminder!

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