The Overdue Family Meal Post
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.
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 Â some of my dreams so aggressively now. I know when I go to meet Â 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.