Last week, we became those people.
I had my first inkling in line at the grocery store. As I waited for my turn, I thought about all the things we had going on that week. Appointments, classes, homework, meetings, events…plus regular school and work hours. The line moved forward and I reviewed my menu plan for the week. Certain nights can be new meals, others need to be intentional leftovers or something fast and easy…
Another customer finished and took his bags and we all moved up in line. While I scanned the recipe headlines on magazine covers, I realized there was one night on the horizon that was going to be complicated. Somehow we had managed to pull a schedule that would not allow for dinner. And I don’t just mean no sit-down dinner together as a family – I mean at all. Somehow, schedule changes occurred such that Zilla and I had to manage homework, an appointment, and a Scout event all on the same evening. Oh, and dinner. Somehow.
This was going to take some planning.
I figured out that the Hub was going to have to be on his own until after we returned from the Scout thing. I gave him a list of all the things in the fridge he could eat on his own. He also asked for our itinerary for the evening, so he’d know where we were going to be.
OK, Hub taken care of. Now for Zilla and me.
We needed to get her home from school and handle homework right away before the first appointment. Not a problem. The tricky part was going to be getting from appointment to Scouts and squeezing dinner in between. I even called the eye doctor’s office to see how long the appointment would take and find out if he was on time or running behind. Short appointment, only ten minutes delay. No problem. Even with the delay, we would be able to handle a quick drive-thru dinner between there and Scouts.
Stop. I know, I know. Drive-thru is not my choice for a good (or even not-good) dinner, but time was of the essence. Yes, we could have packed from home, but every now and then Zilla loves a Happy Meal and we decided this was a good opportunity for a treat. Quick run through the golden arches, eat on the way to Scouts, put the GPS on, and arrive in good time for the event.
Zilla’s appointment took far longer than we anticipated. While we still could have managed our dinner in the car, we no longer had time to actually sit in the drive-thru and get the food. Thwarted. I knew we should’ve packed from home…
Luckily, somewhere in the back of my mind I thought we might want to have a backup plan just in case things didn’t run the way we hoped. So instead of dinner, Zilla and I had some water and protein bars for a snack on the way to the event. And yes, we got our promised Happy Meal treat on the way home.
In the end, we did it! We managed to pull off a night with everyone going separate ways, no room for a meal, and time delays working against us. The very obvious and simple answer is that we thought ahead. We planned. We allowed for that inevitable margin of error.
And we made it work. We were pretty proud of ourselves.
If you asked me even two years ago if we would be those people – the ones with a hefty after-school and evening schedule, the ones who have a string of things to accomplish in what is actually too little time, I would have said, “No way. Not us. Not ever.”
But the truth is that we are all those people at some point. Life is such that while our ideal might be for the whole family to eat dinner together at home, the day to run smoothly, and drive-thru to never happen, that is not always going to be reality.
I worried about that for a bit. I fretted in the Hub’s general direction about spiraling downward into a life spent in the car and never connecting as a family. I wondered (with just a touch of frantic hysteria) if the lack of family dinner time would send our Daughter forth into a life of delinquency and emotional angst greater than what we might expect as normal for a teenage girl. What about all those commercials that told us the family table would keep our kids off drugs? Does this mean we’ve already failed at that parental task?
He assured me we would be fine. And he’s right, of course. Because being busy and having days where you feel like you live in your car don’t guarantee the downfall of familial structure. And the family table is a concept, not a proscribed hour on the clock or a particular seat at your own dining room set. The family table is about maintaining consistent connection and communication with one another.
For me – for all of us, really – this was a huge victory. In this house that ADHD built, things like plans and timing and details are a challenge. But giving it all a little attention in the line at the grocery store set us up for success.
The Hub knew where we were going to be every step of the way. I knew that he was home with a decent meal for himself (hey, he’s a non-cook so this is a thing). Zilla was with me and talked to her Fab Dad on the phone between locations. We all knew what was going on and the details were covered. The things we usually talk about at the dinner table, we covered in the car and via the phone. And we managed to keep the stress level at a minimum.
Zilla commented on the whole situation that very night in the car.
“Mom,” she pipped from the back seat. “Since I started Daisies and Karate, we’re busy a lot more. We go places in the car a lot after school and we used to just be at home.”
Me: “Yup. You’re right. Does that bother you?’
She thought for a minute.
Z: “A little because I miss Dad. But not really because we talked to him.”
Me: “And we’ll see him after Scouts. All good.”
Z: “Yes, all good.”
And she’s right. We are more busy. We’ve become those people. We’re people who have busy schedules and things to do with a kid who has her own agenda now, too.
And it’s all pretty good.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather to support one another in finishing the same sentence, completely or loosely. This week’s sentence is”It started in the line at the grocery store…”
Your host is Kristi from Finding Ninee.
This week’s co-hosts are Dawn M Skorczewski (this week’s sentence thinker-upper) and Nicki Gilbert from (Redboots). To read Dawn’s ending to the sentence prompt, please visit her FB profile page here.