Making Family Mealtime Work for You
Creating this ritual in an age of overbooked kids is no mean feat. Here's how one mom does it.
So here’s my question: Does it count as a family dinner if only one parent is home and that parent ordered in?
When we bustle in after school and after dark, my children sniff the air in the hallways of our building. Some of our neighbors are cooking supper, and often delicious smells travel up the central stairwell. “Mmm,” the kids say, before we walk into our airless apartment with its cold stove. Sure, it would be nice for my children to associate the rich aroma of simmering stews and roasts with coming home to their own house, as I did when I was young. But how is this possible when I’m running all over town to pick them up? And, honestly, they don’t seem to be suffering too much―they eat reasonably nutritious meals, meals bought and plated with love. Most of the family-dinner frustration seems to be mine alone.
So what if my son has his Proustian Mom-moment whenever he inhales as he walks by our local Chinese restaurant? I have made
a fragile, pragmatic peace with what we have. At least when I call in the order, I do it with devotion. And, this way, for
the rest of his life―be it in the fraternity house, his bachelor pad, or his family’s home, as he frantically tries to feed
his own growing offspring―when he opens that front door, smiles at the delivery person, and smells the chicken and broccoli
in brown sauce, the kid will think of me.