Before Asher came into our lives I would happily talk to anyone who would stand still long enough about the wonders of family meals. I firmly believed that families who ate together were more likely to communicate more and therefore be more functional and happy. I believed the dark hints I made about poor family communication being one of the causes so many societal ills. The only exception in my mind was the great Friday night in - key components of which are loved ones, a glass of wine, the couch and something funny on TV.
After all this talk Sanjay and I figured we should put our money where our mouth is and try and teach Asher good eating habits by modelling them ourselves. Although we almost always eat breakfast together we rarely eat other meals together at home. Lunch is a kind of snack-y nibble on sandwiches, fruit and crackers between 10 and 12:30 and there is often an afternoon snack of some kind but then we feed Asher his dinner at 5:30 or 6pm and then the adults eat after Asher is in bed. So yesterday Sanjay and I planned to have dinner all together as a family. We chose to cook something we though he might eat and Sanjay arranged to be home by 5:45 so no one would be too tired or grouchy.
Unfortunately all my rose-tinted smugness crashed into the cold hard reality of eating with a toddler last night. Before we even got to the table I was just fed up with the whole thing. I was sore and tired and had no conversation for poor Sanjay. Asher had been cranky all day and wanted to bang his bowl on the table more than eat. In an effort to increase the togetherness quotient of the meal we were eating out of the same melamine bowls as Asher, and although they are rather nice and completely adult (white with a fun aqua stripe and a groovy pattern) it still felt a bit like a picnic. I'm not sure whether it was the fact that I ate my entire bowl of creamy, bacon-y pasta in about two minutes, or whether it was having to eat my sanctimonious pre-baby words, but I felt decidedly queasy by the time we had all finished.
I'm not sure where we go from here. I really enjoy the glass of wine and the quiet and calm of our meals after Asher's bedtime but I really do want to make a tradition of family meals. Do we just keep trying? What can we do to make it more pleasant for me? Do we really have to do it every week? Can I have two quick beers before we start so I'm tipsy enough to not care about the noise and the mess? I'm not sure alcohol-as-a-coping-strategy is really what I want to model for our impressionable youngster...