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Saturday, April 13, 2013

At The Table


real pics I took of real moments around our table
I used to grocery shop for two weeks at a time which often garnered snide comments like, “What are you feeding? An army?” or “You know the store is open tomorrow, right?” Preparing meals for seven people required a lot items and my cart was often noticeably overflowing, my bill was outrageous and the bag boys hated to see me coming.

Eventually the jokes wore on my nerves and while my family stills needs to eat (a lot and often), I go to the store more frequently and avoid being the butt of the cheeky shopper’s joke.

Once I unload the food at home I begin to relax (except that one time when we had a Pantry Inquisition). Putting items away and filling our pantry feels a little sacred in a way. The beautiful complexity that is the burden of feeding my family is a responsibility I take to heart.
That is until the bewitching hour that is 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. every night. I round up (or at least identify the location of) all five kids, tutor them, check their homework, pick them up from practice and/or attend games and meets while everyone’s appetites grow ravenous and my blood pressure skyrockets. Every day. Over and over the routine is the same, hustle, bustle, kids come and go and in the midst of it they dare demand to know, "What's for dinner because I'm staaaaarrrrrrving!"

It can get a little stressful. I'm not going to lie.

And yet, each and every day, I pull off an amazing feat. Despite the distractions, interruptions and constant supervision my family requires, I put a relatively nutritious, hot, home cooked meal down on the table every night.

That’s when the magic begins. We stop running in and out of the house, we put our phones away and turn off the TV. For in a short, albeit significant moment, we stop, we gather and we sit around the table.

Our table seats six and most days the little ones fight for who gets stuck sitting on the extra stool. Our table is also old; handed down to us from my father in-law’s parents. It has water ring stains, nicks, chips and blue paint from an embarrassing, homemade Storm Trooper Halloween costume attempt from 2002. But it's the same table my husband's family gathered around to eat, pray and play Cribbage.

Unfortunately, due to distance or even death, my children don't know some of people who have sat at that table before them. Yet when we gather around it today, I get the sense that they are more connected than they realize.

When I think of all the stories that have been shared, the parties, dinners, baby showers and funeral food it has served, it seems significant. So while visitors to my home might see an outdated table and chairs in need of repair and a fresh coat of varnish, I see history; a living history.

For all the complaining I do about the amount of food I buy, the cost of milk these days and slaving away at the stove, the truth is I really embrace it as it is a means to a very important end. Bringing my family around the table is a gift I give them every day. Hopefully they will continue the tradition in their homes when they've grown and started families of their own. I imagine this table will stay with me as long as possible. Maybe someday one of my children will want it for themselves but while I’m fond of our old table I’m more interested in the tradition of us coming together. I hope my children grow to know that while the table is truly an amazing piece, the furniture itself is not what’s most important. The table serves us as a gathering place. And the act of coming together and partaking is what is most important of all. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so. That’s why.

Stephanie Sikorski is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District and can be reached at ssikorski@mr238.org This article appears (in part) in Monmouth's Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series. You can read previous submissions here. If you enjoyed this article please share! Sharing is caring!
My husband also wrote a moving piece about our Dining Room Table! Did you catch it? Read it here.

Both of us have been inspired by this piece on Donald Miller's Storyline Blog by Shauna Niequist. Read that piece here.


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