The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.
As Thing One started his senior year of high school and Thing Two started his freshman year, I found myself craving some routine. This summer, due to Thing One’s work schedule, and my work schedule, we were lucky to have dinner together as a family once a week. That dinner was the cornerstone of my parenting plan. It was the one half hour each day when I knew I could check in with my kids, assess their happiness levels, determine if they needed my help with anything.
I was able to keep tabs on Thing Two fairly well. And we had some great conversations at dinner with just the two of us. But my cord of three strands was missing a strand. I felt undone.
With the new school year upon us, I shared with both boys that I was looking forward to getting back into our routine: dinner Sunday through Thursday together as a family.
They agreed that it would be nice to sit down and share a meal together. I think they crave the stability of that (even if they don’t want to admit it). But the reality when we looked at the calendar was that our former routine just could not happen the way it always had. Thing One is working Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Last spring, when he got the job, we agreed that he could have a night or two free to socialize since the typical socializing nights were taken with work obligations. Which brings us down to two nights a week that he’ll be home.
And then you layer in my work schedule at my part time job, and you realize we may be lucky to be home for dinner together one night a week even during the school year.
At first I was intensely sad. How would I connect with them? How would I keep tabs on them? When would our family connection continue to be nurtured?
Then I realized that every night when Thing One comes home from work or socializing, he flops his lanky teenage body across the foot of my bed and gives me a rundown of his day. The good. The bad. The ugly.
He talks. I listen. I can check in with him. I can assess his happiness level. I can determine if he needs my help with anything.
It’s the same connection. In a different place.
And I will nurture it.