We've had some pretty stellar family dinners of late...but they had nothing to do with the actual meals we've made.
Actually, they were in spite of the food, which has been pretty routine and uninventive... Let's just say our current repertoire is heavy in such mundane standbys as spaghetti and meatballs and "taco night" (and not "chic tacos", but the old school ones-- a little meat, a little cheese, a little lettuce, a crispy corn shell. The tacos of our youth. I'm not proud, but it is what it is.)
So the meals not so great, but the meal-time, pretty darn good.
We made a decision early on that we wanted to eat dinner as a family at the table at least five nights a week. It wasn't an easy decision to make or more accurately, it wasn't an easy decision to stick too; it was actually pretty easy to proclaim... See sticking to it means that sometimes we eat at 5:30, because the girls are going nuts with hunger, and if there isn't food on the table at exactly that moment (which we've affectionately dubbed "the witching hour") then surely all hell will break loose. Sticking to it also means that up until recently, (if I'm being perfectly honest here) meals are often...well, a total nightmare. Eating with small kids is hard, and messy, and hard.
Did I mention it was hard?
But, as with a staggeringly large number of kid-related experiences, one day you wake up, and well, it's not so hard anymore. All the gnashing and agonizing pays off, and it's suddenly how you thought it would be when you made that original (smug) proclamation.
And that's pretty much where we are when it comes to meal-time these days. On a typical night (and yes, there are still some exceptions when dinner is all world war II -esque) we wait for everyone to sit down at the table before anyone takes a bite (which is especially hard for Millie, but she still pulls it off sweet girl) and then we start off each meal with a little ritual -- a blessing, the clinking of glasses and a hearty "bon appetite." Everyone eats quietly for a few minutes (ok a few seconds) and then we go around and each say what was best about our day. I know, I know, it sounds a little Normal Rockwell, but it's happening. I promise.
Sure there's still chaos -- taco meat on the floor (the shop vac makes an appearance after every. single. meal.), someone screaming, someone getting up from the table repeatedly for more milk, a bathroom trip, an impromptu dance...It is not perfect, but it's good. In fact, so good, that with each passing meal I can see ever more clear glimpses of what dinner might look like in say five years.
And that I'm really excited about.