Here's the deal:
1. I love to cook.
2. I love to eat.
3. I love to have good conversation with dinner.
Here's what goes on in my house:
1. The kitchen is always a disaster, so I cook around the mess, which creates more mess. And in turn, creates a stand-off between my husband and me over who should clean up.
2. My children eat everything and nothing. We have created math games and tricks to get them to take bites. In the midst of our mealtime carnival games, the little one drops her plate on the floor, the big one has to go to the bathroom a record 21 times and Henry, our enormous dog (who will not stop growing), is the only one who really gets to enjoy the meal I cooked.
3. Because of 1 and 2, I typically end up yelling or requesting that everyone remain silent so I can stew in my rage.
It is all very non-yogic.
There are nights, when I prepare everyone's favorite meal of spaghetti, when everyone eats happily. The pre-meal blessing is honest — because, well, everyone is thankful for garlic bread. The discussion about how to make tomato sauce is delightful and we all marvel at the versatility of tomatoes. And when some spaghetti drops on the floor, we all laugh and call for Henry, who leaps in to save the day.
But, alas, we cannot live on spaghetti alone.
Last night was a dinner breaking point for me. No one was behaving particularly horribly, but I could feel the premature tension in my shoulders, the quiet irritation bubbling up as one kid banged a fork on the table and then I snapped. I yelled. I threatened. I yelled some more.
I decided that I was done with family dinners; that I would never, ever eat like that again. I may have stomped and made strange animal noises.
It was the kind of behavior that leaves you feeling hungover the next day.
Mike thought I was crazy (which might be a valid point). And I thought, wow, Trish, you are so non-yogic.
The good thing about rock-bottom, the only way is up — so tonight (and every night going forward) — we will do everything I tell all my students to do: Eat a plant-based diet, say blessing, eat with gratitude, chew every bite and take our time.
But we will do one more thing: We will let go of all expectations. I am done eating dinner with the mother who watches every bite, who lets rage bubble up and who expects an uninterrupted mealtime.
Instead, I am bringing my best self to the table, expecting nothing, except for the rest of my family to show up.
And if all they eat is cake for dinner, so what? (I'll hide pureed brussel sprouts in that cake, if I have to.) I surrender.
And maybe, my least favorite thing, will become my favorite.
Or I will end up eating all alone in the bathroom.
Trish Adkins is a South Jersey mom. This post is adapted from her blog, Yoke.