After a rough encounter with a viscous stomach bug something arrived at my doorway one afternoon last week. I ran (as fast as an 8 month pregnant woman recovering from the flu could run) to the door. Yes. It had arrived.
What deserved my sudden burst of energy? Well my favorite blog, Dinner A Love Story, became a book (!) and I couldn’t wait to devour it. I spent the next 48 hours marking it up with post it notes, trying the ‘split personality’ pizza (more on that later), and confirming something that I already had known. It was time to sit down for a meal together as a family.
Listen. We all know I love to cook. Dinner time is crazy important in my opinion. I just never really knew how to translate that importance to my ever persistent busy body of a son. I didn’t understand how you are supposed sit down together to a meal when your son 1. won’t sit and 2. won’t eat a thing you make.
This book didn’t make me feel more guilty than I already felt about the lacking of a family dinner routine in my home. In fact it made me feel even a little better. I quote the author Jenny Rosenstrach, ‘I don’t recommend attempting a sit-down meal with your kids until your youngest is at least three years old. Before my youngest turned three, we were in survival mode at dinner hour.’ This made me feel better, especially since Jenny has two girls. I know girls can be just as energetic as boys but I’m going to justify things here in my head a bit and argue if you have a boy you should up that rule to age 4, or perhaps to be safe 5. Boys are just…well, different.
This book doesn’t scare you about the lack of a family dinner either, in fact Jenny assures you in the early portion of the book that you will ‘not find dire warnings that your children are going to become meth addicts if you’re not eating with them five nights a week.’ Whew.
What the book does do is sum up what I hope to create in my home. Jenny writes, ‘family dinner is not the magic bullet, the answer to your prayers, the only way to raise happy children. But I will say that it has done more to foster togetherness and impart meaning and joy into my family life on a daily basis than just about anything else I can think of.’
That says it all for me. I understand it will be work. I understand it will be failed attempts of putting effort into a meal that won’t be appreciated or sometimes even touched by L but the whole point is developing the routine of it and, well, trying. Not every night – just meals here and there to lay the ground work for what could be. Yes, that would be the plan.
Saturday morning was our first attempt. I figured what better way to sit down to a meal together than breakfast. Serving homemade buttermilk pancakes to L didn’t seem quite as intimidating as the chicken drumsticks I have on the menu for Monday night. Yes, pancakes are safe and a good way to start. Baby steps here.
The result? We all sat down together. At the same time. We finished our plates. We had a conversation without the TV on. Oh, and it just happened to be my favorite meal I have served in my home to date.
‘Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes’
Recipe from my mom, they are the best.
-2 cups buttermilk
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 cups flours
-1/4 lbs butter
Beat eggs, one at a time, and add buttermilk. Fold in (don’t over mix) sifted dry ingredients and melted butter. Place 1/4 cup of batter on a hot greased griddle. Turn over when bubbles appear.
Before you flip them, feel free to add blueberries…chocolate chips…raspberries, etc.
Wish me luck on those drumsticks…