Adoption,  Family,  Food

Family dinner

The husband keeps coming up with strange comments out of the blue about what needs to happen before we adopt. I’ve realized that they all center around food. There’s been “we need to get a dining room table” and now “we don’t have enough spoons to have a kid.” In between he said that when we get a kid we need to have sit down family dinners all at the same time. This cracked me up. He’s the reason we don’t have sit down family dinners now.

I tried to do this when we first got married but I never knew when he was coming home from work. It would range from 6:00 PM to his record of 3:45 AM. He would also call and say that he was heading out from the office but then not show up for another 3 hours because he decided to do ‘one more thing’ before he left. So I gave up on him. Now we each make whatever we want to eat. That’s easier for timing and also because of the vegetarian/carnivore dynamic. If he eats vegetarian meals for more than 3 days in a row he starts to twitch.

But we’ve been discussing family dinner over the last few days. My mom cooked every night and you ate what she made you. I was a picky eater and I had the option of eating what she made or starving. There was no making an additional meal for me. I hear about people stressing themselves out over making several meals for different people and I laugh. I can’t imagine what my mother would have done if as a child I would have demanded a separate meal.

I asked the husband how he even knows about family dinner. When his mother lived here she was very proud of the fact that she didn’t cook. I figured he saw it on Leave it to Beaver since his stated idea of family dinner is that I need to make meals that fit into three separate bowls – a vegetable, a potato, and meat – and then we all sit down and pass them around. (Sometimes he forgets who he married. Me, make meat for every meal?) He said that his stepmom made meals every night. They always started with salad and even had dessert. In my family my brother at about age 4 was famous for remarking ‘we had dessert once before’ when Mom said that she had made a dessert one night.

My SIL’s family didn’t eat sit down meals. She wants to cook them but isn’t sure what to do. She and my brother went shopping and she didn’t know if she should make a list and if she did make a list she didn’t know what to put on it because she didn’t know what was included in home cooked meals.

I’ve had people asked me worriedly if I had a kid would I raise her vegetarian. I always answer that it depends on who is cooking for her that night. Me – probably yes. The husband – probably no. She’s definately not getting dessert every night.

Now that I’m thinking about this it is amazing how much of what we think of when we think of family time is focused around food. Even more amazing are the stats that say that most people don’t eat together. How is this such a communal ideal but seemingly so difficult to achieve?

Tonight I’m making a family meal because we’ve been discussing it. I’m even cooking meat because the husband has been so good about working with the horses. He’ll be shocked. Of course I’ve had to call him to see when he is coming home. Dinner is ready now and he’ll be home sometime in the next hour or so. At least that’s what he claims.


  • Deb

    Dinner time can be a really loaded issue. I think it serves a different purpose when you have kids than when you are a couple. Before we had a kid we ate out a lot or would have dinner at 10:00, and that was great. It served the purpose of giving the two of us time to be together and connect. We lived in Manhattan, so ordering in was also a great option. I’m not sure that it is necessary to connect around food, but it feels right to me. Maybe that’s because I enjoy food and cooking.

    Things changed when we had our daughter. Though we quickly began teaching her “restaurant manners,” eating in restaurants with a child gave us a very different experience than before. We felt the need to be together and talk about stuff, so we started having a more regular dinner ritual.

    I’m the faster and more enthused cook, so I plan and cook the dinners. My husband does clean up.This works out fairly well. We talk about our day and whatever else comes up. It isn’t forced nor does it have to be enforced. Our money is tighter than it used to be, so having dinner at home is mostly cheaper than eating decent food out. There are times when I’m exhausted or busy, and I don’t or can’t get the dinner thing done. That just seems practical to me, and it keeps resentment down.

  • Nio

    Sitting down and eating together is really important to me and it took quite a while to get Wolf to agree to ‘family dinner.’

    I would wait for hours to eat, all the while snacking, waiting for him to say he was hungry, then when I wasn’t paying attention, he would make something for himself and I would get wicked angry, mostly because I was hungry.

    We’ve settled into a routine, but if it were up to him, he’d eat in front of his computer while playing video games.

    Oh, my mother was the same as yours. If I didn’t eat what she served (all vegetables from a can, heated in the microwave and some sort of meat) I still had to sit at the table while everyone ate, then I could fix myself a bowl of soup or can of ravolis. She hated to cook (and it was obvious) so she wasn’t going to cook more than one meal.

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