09 January 2011

Breakfast Together

Today, Burt has volunteered to make oatmeal for breakfast.  He usually does this once a weekend, and it is great for me.  Regular oatmeal is not one of my favorites, but taking it easy in the morning, and needing only to sip my coffee and wait for the morning is definitely a favorite.  And also, I think that the weekly bowls of oatmeal with Burt and the boys is a nice routine for just them, and a bond.

As long as I can remember, growing up, married life, and life with children, breakfast has been a solitary affair.  As a child, while I was staring at soggy cereal in my bowl, I did it alone, or more exactly, with my sister.  As a newlywed, well, it's a long story, but Burt had brutal working hours as an ensign in the Navy, and what with training, refitting, and deployment out to sea, breakfast for each of us was alone.  Burt's hours were not conducive to having breakfast at home, and he said that he could get ready and to work faster if I would just not bother fixing him anything.  And I needed a lot of sleep back then, so I stayed in bed while he rose and ate alone.  And later, I would eat alone, reading the paper, and being perfectly content.

There is nothing wrong with some peace and quiet in the morning.  I have had it for most of my life, and I like it.  It's one of the reasons why I do get up so early in the mornings now (in addition to just plain biology, not needing as much sleep, and a back that won't take too much time lying in bed.)  I like having the time to sip coffee alone in my own thoughts, plan my day with no distractions, do some prayers or Bible reading without being interrupted, and maybe even begin a blog post or a crossword puzzle.  In the summer, I use that time to walk Scamp before it gets too hot, and then I have my coffee on the front porch listening to the birds.  Yes, I like some solitude, especially in the morning.

So it is not surprising that when babies came, they were exposed to the same kind of morning routine.  Oh, sure, there were the special years when I would hold them and give them their bottles, and the times when I would feed them those little jars of baby food, one spoonful at a time.  Those were wonderful times.  But then, as soon as each boy was old enough to feed himself, I would put his food on the table and get busy with something else, like a shower, or the dishes, or Lord Knows What.  It was always something.  And there's nothing exactly WRONG with that.  It's what we all were used to.

And then one day, sometime this past fall, I sat down and had coffee cup #2 while the boys were eating.  And it was nice.  We had breakfast together.  (Actually, I had already eaten, but 2nd cup of coffee counts.)  And I said to myself, "What's all the rush about?  Why such a hurry to get the laundry sorted?  Don't you know that they're halfway grown now, and soon, you'll have all the mornings you want to sort laundry and do dishes?  Sit down and enjoy some company, for cryin' out loud."  And I have ever since.

Sometimes I have already eaten because I'm starving, and I only have another cup of coffee.  Other times, I eat along with they boys.  And we talk, who knows what about, sometimes silly stuff and we laugh, sometimes interesting stuff like politics, and sometimes I just listen to a never-ending summary of a TV show that I have absolutely NO intererst in, but I listen.  And no one reads the paper, shutting out the others, and no one watches TV, and no one has had a chance yet in the day to get angry at anyone else.

Sometimes, I must put the food on the table and get myself ready for something, an early morning appointment, something.  But usually I manage to find that 10 or 15 minutes needed for us to breakfast together.  Really, it is such a small amount of time in the day to invest.

Maybe I'm the last mom to have figured this out.  But if I'm not, and if your usual morning does not have breakfast together at a table together, please consider giving it a try.  Yes, if you work, it will mean more for you to do in the morning.  But just like those baby bottle years, you can never have this time back.  There is only a finite number of mornings that your kids will be at your table eating breakfast as kids, and it's nice to enjoy that time with them.

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