A news story caught my attention this morning. Gwen and I were excited to watch because, as she put it, “We do that every dang day!” The story was about the benefits of eating together as a family. Or at least that was how they teased the story before the commercial break.
I was a little surprised and disappointed with the way they addressed the story. The focus seemed to be more on parents cutting themselves slack over not eating together more often. Families are busy after all. “It’s impossible for some families to get together for dinner.” That is a quote from at least two news anchors. My head hurts from rolling my eyes.
My irritations have been mounting lately. I have heard far too many moms complain about their kids and wish for more ways to get a break from them. Of all my many many pet peeves, this has to be my top one. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why people want families when they end up looking for escape routes the second they get one. As far as dinner is concerned, it’s not impossible. It’s a matter of priorities. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. We spend our time doing what matters most. Period.
Whining parents irritate me to no end. If you feel like you don’t have time and all you do is ferry your kids from one activity to the next, stop the madness! Cut back on some of those activities.
I wanted to be a mom. Not only did I consciously choose to put my body through the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth, I wanted those kids to be a part of my life afterwards. I love being around them. I love reading to them. Even though one is a teenager and two are tweens. I love talking to them. I love laughing with them. I love spending time with them. Some parents can barely stand to spend an entire hour with their children each day. Now that my kids are getting older, I would do anything to have more time with them.
My kids may spend more time with friends, or time pursuing their own interests. They are entitled to do so. One non-negotiable in our house is dinner. We eat together. Every night. It connects us to each other. We also pray together. Every night.
Gwen listened to that news story and said, “We read the scriptures together after dinner.” I will admit we’re not always consistent with it, but it’s obviously important to her. This is how we enjoy spending quality time together. I have even seen on websites that eating out counts as eating together. Good because those are the nights we have the best conversations and laugh the hardest.
I know the news story was only about eating together each day. It makes me think of the social problems that plague our society. I have a sick fascination with watching TLC shows like Hoarding: Buried Alive, or My 600 lb. Life. The backstory is what interests me the most. The people have been abused, neglected, or were raised in a single parent home after their parents divorced. Although the hoarders tend to have backstories of intense loss. Their compulsions fill a void in their lives.
What if families didn’t treat their relationships as disposable? Or even an obligation that takes them from something “more important” and entertaining? What if families spent more time together and found love, self-worth, and best friends living under their same roof? What if we stopped rationalizing divorce, time apart, and the impossibility of spending an hour together each day as normal? But instead we put in a little more effort to actually be a family?
Maybe the world is actually too afraid of being happy.