Friday, I got off work late. It was after 6:30 before I was in the locker room, changing out of my scrubs. I texted Hubster that I was done and heading home. I asked him to get dinner started.
"Already done," was the response. Yes, Hubster is amazing (and the menu helps a little too.)
I then told him to just go ahead and feed the boys, since between walking to the bus, the bus ride, and my drive, it would be at least 30 minutes before I would be home (which, on a tangent, is ridiculous, since I live less than 3 miles away from the hospital.)
When I finally came through the door a little after 7 pm, I found, not fed children, but children getting up to the table, the plates all served with burritos, cheese, sour cream, and steamed vegetables.
Hubster had kept dinner waiting, giving the boys a few chips to tide them over until I was home and we could eat together.
Is having dinner at 7 pm late, especially for a 6 year old? Yes. Would it be ideal to have a set meal time and feed the boys at 5:30 pm every evening? Yes. But is it more important to eat together than at a certain time? We think so.
Years ago, when I was a new mom, and trying to be the perfect parent and impress everyone else with my mad skills (that didn't actually exist), I felt a lot of pressure to follow everyone else's example. Other parents told me that their children always ate at 5 pm and were always in bed by 7:30 pm. At the time, I was a medical student, and often didn't get home until after 7 pm. If my children went to bed at that time, I would never get to spend time with them.
So eventually, Hubster and I got over having to do what everyone else did, and just started doing what worked best for our family. And the most important thing we could think of was that we eat dinner together, every single day that we can.
And that's what we have done. When I'm working a night shift and have to leave the house by 5:30 pm, we eat at 4:30 or 5. When Hubster or I have to be late, we eat dinner at 7 pm or even later. It doesn't always work. Sometimes I have 24 hour calls, sometimes my shift doesn't end until 11 pm. But sometimes even then, Hubster brings the boys to the hospital and we have dinner together, even if that dinner is McDonald's.
We all sit down, put away our iPhones, take the toys off the table, and sit down and eat. Everyone eats the same thing. (Correction: everyone is served the same thing. I attempt to get the boys to at least taste everything.) We talk about our days, or talk about Legos, or talk about the future, or tell silly jokes, or talk about movies, or talk about how cute Duck is.
This might not happen at the same time every day. Sometimes dinner is served a little cold, having had to wait on me. Sometimes the boys refuse to eat anything off their plates. But the important part is that at the end of every day, we are all around the table, talking, together.