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My heart. At the table.

This afternoon Bill and I worked concession at the middle school football game–it’s a service the varsity parents perform for the middle school parents, and they return the favor during varsity games.  The younger three kids didn’t want to stay, so they caught a ride home (Thanks, Aunt Stacy!). My oldest had football practice, concluding with team dinner.  Bill left concessions early to swing by home, grab dinner, and head out to a church meeting that will probably last another hour from now.  Late.  The other three kids ate, well, I don’t actually know when.  I know they ate, because there are very few ribs in the pan!  I was supposed to have a riding lesson late this evening, but I have shingles and I’m just not up to it.  So I’m actually home unexpectedly.

This is all to just give you an example of one night in our home.  One.  Most are just as irregular–not chaotic, because we can plan for them, but not regular, and we don’t get to hang out together.  This hurts my mama heart.

I love dinner time.  I love my tribe gathered around the table and I love the laughing and the eating and the coming together.  We all do.  And so when the outside world encroaches my first instinct is to put a wall up.  No way, no how, is anyone messing with dinner time. Maybe you have a ritual in your home that you love dearly and don’t want to give up to the world, too.

And really, to get down-and-dirty honest, I was scared.  I was scared that losing dinnertime would mean losing my family.  My kids don’t just love me and their dad.  They love and care for each other.  Their social circles overlap.  They are involved in each other’s lives, and each one values the opinions of the others.  (Okay, not always, and not on everything, but they are close.)

I was so afraid that we would come unglued as a family if we couldn’t all have a common schedule.  I’ve seen so many families where home was just the place they all happened to sleep.  I didn’t want to be that family.

I actually said “no” for a little while.  We didn’t do extracurricular activities that interfered with dinner, and kept our commitments to a minimum. But it just isn’t realistic in our world.  Scouts, sports, meetings…it was a choice of diving in or staying out of the pool altogether.

If I had stayed attached to my family dinner, we would have lost out on Scouts, wrestling, football, track, swimming, and acres and acres of horseback riding. (Also committees at church, but it’s unclear that would be a loss!  LOL) My kids have loved doing these in their different seasons, and in most cases we have all grown from these experiences.

I looked at what was important with family dinner time.  It wasn’t the food.  It was being together, all seeing each other and spending a few minutes regrouping.  My kids love each other and they need that time to be reminded that they have bonds that are special.

We adjusted to a new rhythm.  We’ve found that by making some changes we can still feel connected.  Here are a couple of the changes we made, and later this month I may talk in more depth about them:

  • Sunday dinner.  Non-negotiable. Guests welcome.
  • A nightly touch-base.
  • Occasional breakfasts before school.

This is actually the most significant of the adjustments we made for a new and busier schedule.  I’ll share some of my other thinking, too, but I think I’ll save it for another post.  I’ve got 29 more of these posts to write this month!

Meanwhile, maybe you are feeling under siege like I did.  Kids grow and schedules get more intense, friends beckon, and there might even be jobs looming.  Can you identify the one thing, ONE, that you are afraid you will lose by adjusting to a different rhythm?