Top | cafemama — an inconvenient life

dining room table has family eating together, anytime

(post, Sarah Gilbert)

primary-image, l

For seven years now (seriously? seven years?) my husband and I have made our dining room our bedroom, as we ...very... .....slowly..... renovate the top floor of our house, where the bedrooms should be. The boys' bedroom was one of the first things we finished, and then, we stalled. In mornings in the summer, I'd wake up and look at the branches of the cherry tree outside our dining/bedroom window and long to be seeing them at mealtimes, instead.

I've been begging my husband to make a change for the past few years, immediately if not sooner, and life has gotten in the way. Somehow, life's signal got set to "all clear" these past few weeks and a dining room table arrived in our life, an unused table that the friend I call our "garden whisperer" paid $100 to reclaim from a dark garage.

For a week, the table sat on our front porch while my husband sanded, stained and varnished. He moved our bed upstairs to the still-unfinished future master bedroom (I professed my thrill, no complaints about the empty studs that make up two of the walls here). And on Mother's Day, he struggled and grunted and sweat and, with the help of our eldest son, deposited it in the center of our dining room.

It's a beautiful thing, a thick farmhouse trestle-style table with plenty of room for the five of us, and guests too. It's really just the way I'd always dreamed my dining room would look (ok, I hadn't dreamed about the clothes dressers and the big cabinet of my shoes, but we're working on that). When I set a plate down, a mug, it's a still-life painting, there, a bit of art in each day.

Since its installation, I've been making rules to honor the change in our lives. No eating anywhere but the dining room table, even snacks I'd previously eaten at my computer in the kitchen (where a breakfast nook would go, if we'd ever get to the kitchen in our achingly leisurely home remodel). No computers or toys at the table. No standing on the table (ok, that mostly applies to my 22-month-old). When one of the kids is eating, even if it's not technically meal time, I try to sit and eat with them, too -- or even, just grab a cup of coffee and chat for a moment or two.

Last night Everett decided to help out in the garden, digging and transplanting past bedtime, and came in starving. I fixed him fried eggs and washed an apple while I made myself arugula & mustard raab with the free kale I'd been given for Mother's Day at People's Co-op (I know!). As an afterthought, I poured in a measure of cream after I'd braised the greens with garlic and butter.

It was delicious, and as I sat with him, Everett told me he'd decided to start harvesting lemon balm for tea. "I like tea," he said, finishing up his apple and starting in on his eggs.

I sat there quiet for a minute, windows dark with night, surrounded by drawers of clothes and shoeboxes, savoring the summer evenings of my early-daydreams, a family, a bowl of cherries from my tree, a pot of lemon balm tea, a dining room table, my life as depicted by the artist of my imagination.