The land of opportunity. This was something that made America the country all wanted to live in. And for this generation of parents, our children have plenty of opportunity to get involved in so many activities. And parents have this need to want their children to become well rounded individuals, and so we are compelled to sign them up for any and every activity they are even remotely interested in. Which requires us to spend hours in the car, running here and there, sometimes two activities in one day, and even overlapping activities. And dinner time…usually involves a drive thru or a hurry up and eat dinner in the car, or a grab something on the way out the door, or you realize it’s 8:00 and you have forgotten to feed your child! But they have been to gymnastics, and choir, and girl scouts, and have done most of their homework, but their nutritious needs are on the back burner. A conversation with your child usually involves something like hurry up, you’re gonna be late, don’t forget x,y, andz..forget about sitting around the dinner table talking about their day…and besides who has time to cook? Add a single parent with two jobs, plus remembering all of these activities…you are lucky if there is even milk in the fridge!
So this was me…until recently. Suddenly it dawned on me that life doesn’t have to be this way..it was time to go back to the table. Instilling some of those memories of my childhood, where my grandma who was a great babysitter would play a board game with me, make a homecooked meal, give me the job of setting the table once my homework was done, and not starting dinner until my dad was home, into my daughter’s memories.
This takes some training…for both me and my daughter. First, I have to plan ahead..making sure there are groceries and recipies and food my picky mac and cheese cup daughter will actually eat. And then there is the focusing…turn off the tv and all the other noise and teach her to sit down. Meal time is a time to connect with your child, where they don’t have to run somewhere or be told to be focused or get everything done or hurry up…it’s our time where we can talk. And I did. And here is what I learned from our conversations at the table…that my daughter’s favorite summertime memory is when she and I went to the waterpark and I got stuck in the innertube, which she thought was hilarious. Or another conversation was when she was telling me she wants a new bed, preferably a loft bunk bed, but then asks me if I will have trouble climbing up to the top and laying with her as she falls asleeps, because she likes when I do that. And finally, the time she read to me from her school assignment that her mom is her hero because she listens to me and helps me. So that’s what I learned from going back to the table…she didn’t mention anything about being in the car or driving to so many different activities. And the most important lesson I learned…I may not have a husband or the 4 kids I always imagined having sitting around my table, but I sure have the family I always prayed for…and that is my wonderful daughter. And I can give her a memory of sitting around the table that she will remember.
Thank you Kim for sharing your story and giving all parents food for thought.