Today Daniel and I experienced it… a moment of sanity – a glimpse of the past and a window into the distant future. It happened innocently enough. Daniel called late afternoon to say he would be late coming home, not to worry especially since he was on his bicycle today. “How late?” I pressed him. Unable to answer me with a definite time, I asked him if I should go ahead and feed the kids. “Yes,” he said, “might as well.”
I was elated. This worked very well with my supper plan. The kids had already asked me what was for supper; and upon telling them, I was greeted with a series of protests about not wanting chili but wanting yogurt and carrots instead, to which I had given our standard answer “If you don’t want to eat chili, that’s fine, but there will be no dessert or snacks.” Daniel and I are sticklers about the kids eating the same thing we eat at meals, and of course this means meal times aren’t always the most relaxing times for Daniel and myself, although it has definitely gotten better over the years! But to be blatantly honest, whenever Daniel isn’t home for supper, I feel I have some “creative” license concerning the entree – usually I pick something that won’t incur additional conflicts. So chili was dismissed from the kids’ menu, and yogurt with cooked carrots mixed in became the main dish. (Yes, cooked carrots and yogurt mixed… together. Alice mixed her carrots into her yogurt once and has done it ever since with Ian following suit. I choose not to comment and try not to wrinkle my nose at her culinary masterpiece.)
I also must admit that usually when Daniel calls to say he’ll be late, I ask if I should feed the kids not only for their sake, but selfishly for my sake as well. I wish I could say I’m the model wife and always wait patiently to eat until Daniel gets home on the nights he’s late, which is actually very rare; but I don’t. I feel like a 4 yr old admitting this, but I’m a person of the hangry disorder (being overly hungry leads to feelings of anger and shortness of temper, sometimes unable to be logically pleased = hangry). Seriously, you see this in kids all the time – huge meltdowns right before meal times. Sad to say, this is me as well – not for every meal, generally only if a meal time is moved well beyond the anticipated time of ingestion. I’ve tried to tell myself this is all in my head – certainly a 30+ year old woman can control her emotions even though she’s a little hungry. But try as I might, I usually end up acting uncharacteristically bad toward the kids (or whomever happens to be present) then slurping some sugary drink to try to quiet my raging innards until more substantial sustenance arrives.
Tonight was different. I wasn’t overly hungry when Daniel called, and for some reason I didn’t even think about the fact that I could eat with the kids. When I told them Daddy would be late, the kids wanted to eat right away. In short order, I started dishing up yogurt and slicing the cooked-carrots-mix-ins. I stayed in the dining room while they ate, cleaning fingerprints off windows and organizing my desk, i.e., getting ready for company on Thursday evening. When Daniel arrived home – not overly late, the kids were finished, and I was still cleaning. He took a shower while I heated up dinner – leftover chili/taco meat for soft tacos. As I put dishes in the microwave, I was taken back in time to when Daniel and I lived in our apartment over 6 years ago. On hot summer evenings we would sit on our small windowed-in porch/sun room and eat our supper together – making conversation as we pleased, still feeling the heat of the day, watching the sun make its evening descent, sometimes in silence. We would watch the corn in the nearby field grow tall and brown as summer months went on and the tiger lilies bloom and then wither around the base of a tree near the porch. We were always a little sad when it was too cold to eat our supper our there together. It was like we knew times like that were precious and would become scarce.
As Daniel and I sat tonight and ate our meal, just the two of us, making conversation without interruptions or having to tell a child to sit correctly or to be respectful, I told him I think we’ll be eating a lot of tacos when we are old and alone because we love them so much, they’re easy to make, and we won’t have to fight the food battle with the kids. That pleased him greatly although he added that he had hope the kids would eventually like tacos too – before we were old. In the next sentence he said to me “Thanks for waiting to eat with me. I enjoyed it. Remember when we used to eat supper together on the porch at our apartment? I felt that way tonight.”
Me too…. me too.
And while I would never even remotely consider wanting my kids to behave like perfect little angels (robots) at the table, nor am I wishing away these days when my family eats together almost every night, it was exciting to sit in our own home, just the two of us, sharing our extended moment of sanity for the day. As I think about my day… small boy pulling the wood paneling off the garage door, little-big girl trimming her hair as she trimmed the daisies, the mischievous duo giving each other sand showers in the sandbox, I’m pretty sure God knew I needed both the reminder of the past – who we were, and the portal into the future – the hope that we’ll still continue on together even when the kids aren’t the entire focus. Just maybe one day in the future we’ll share our dinners outside again, just the two of us, watching the sun set each evening as the corn changes all season long.