"Many finicky eaters are created, not born. As a parent, evaluate your own relationship to food. Are you overly concerned with nutritional inake? Are you yourself a picky eater? Perhaps you are a junk food connoisseur. As hard as it may be, try not to pass on any extreme preoccupation with food. Family mealtime and the kitchen table should not become a war zone; try to make meals a pleasant experience for everyone." page 145 Ezzo/Buchman "Toddlerwise"
Today I was hit in the face with the FACT that I rarely sit down during meals, unless I am out at a restaurant and being served by a waitress. I get everything ready, feed the kids, serve my husband and then kind-of....well, roam around I guess until it is time to clean up. This sounds pretty silly but today I sat back and realized how this must look in the eyes of the kids and also how it affects Lacey's eating patterns.
Why do I not join in eating breakfast,lunch or dinner with the kids? I do eat-believe me- but often once they are finished or before I serve them. And the majority of the time when I am gobbling something down, I am standing up also trying to accomplish something else.
I do sit down to chat while they eat (especially during dinner when my husband is home) but I often sit in front of an empty plate...Either too tired to fix a palate for myself or just too anxious to sit still long enough to enjoy a meal.
Why? And have I always done this? I started to think about those questions and tried to remember my own Mom sitting down to eat with us. No memories came. I remember her being busy, jumping up to help get something any of the four of us children suggested we might need to make our supper complete. I also recalled a story I have heard many times about my Nanny, my Mom's Mom, NEVER eating with the family. In fact, my Mom said my Nanny would be so exhausted at the end of the day that she would fix the meal, put in on the table and then disappear somewhere. Only to resurface once the plates were empty and the table abandoned. Is this a legacy I want to continue? Certainly not consciously.
And that's the light bulb that went off today. I wonder if Lacey is constantly asking to get out of her high chair and never takes more than a bite or two of her food because she never sees me slowing down to enjoy my dinner. In fact, I often use meal time as a chance to catch up on much needed to do chores - flying around like a maniac picking up things, loading the dishwasher and stuffing diaper bags. I can actually get a lot done in those 15 minutes!!!
So tonight I had the kids help me set the table for dinner. The drinks were poured, candles light and plates prepared before Daddy walked in the door. I told my little chicky's that from here on out we will eat together as a family, no one will be allowed to take the first bite until everyone has been seated and served and we have prayed as a family. They looked at me wide-eyed and nodded their little heads in approval.
Dinner was tough for me. I realized that I must have A.D.D. because I really had to force myself to sit there, constantly wanting to get up to refill a drink or warm something up. I didn't like being stationary. I felt unused and well...not busy.
But DJ was encouraging with his eyes and his conversation. He got up only when necessary and begged me to sit. And I realized how often I run to help at the slightest need or whine instead of sitting and saying NO.
And Lacey - she ate the best she has in weeks.
And so for the remainder 26 days of this blog I am going to will myself to sit down at each meal for at least 15 minutes. And I am going to take a deep breath knowing that there are chores to get down and things to do - but nothing is more important to me than teaching Lacey that life and food is a gift to be enjoyed. Dinner time is about sharing, laughing and providing nourishment to our bodies and our hearts.