The Reality of Family Time
10/27/2014 03:20PM ● Published by Hood Magazine
When I think of family time, I dream of a family…
Mom and dad are in their late 30s and smiling. They are wearing dressy, casual clothes — not too formal, because they are spending this weekend day at home. Dad is at the stove flipping perfectly round pancakes, while mom pours orange juice into glasses and then sets them on the upper right-hand corners of yellow gingham placemats next to big white plates and shiny silverware. Mom calls to the kids to come from their Pottery Barn Kids Catalog rooms. The girl comes tumbling down the tapestry runner stairs in her bunny slippers, blonde hair streaming behind her. Her younger brother bumps down behind her in monkey pajamas. The family sits down together for breakfast in the sun-dappled room.
When I think of family time, I look at my family…
Mom and dad are in their 40s and tired. They are wearing shorts and T-shirts — not because they have just worked out but because they are spending this weekend day at home. Dad is at the stove flipping pancakes and making scrambled eggs, while mom stops to run to the store to pick up the orange juice she forgot the day before. When she gets back, she sets the orange juice on the kitchen counter next to a stack of paper plates and flatware. Mom calls the kids to come down from their toy-strewn rooms. The oldest boy walks down with an iPad in hand, playing Clash of Clans. When no one else appears, mom climbs the stairs while picking up two pairs of shoes and a book that was previously abandoned. She finds the middle son asleep in no mood to wake and the youngest boy engrossed in LEGO building and begging not to have to eat. She compels both boys to join the family in the kitchen. The family sits down together (although there are actually only three kitchen stools, so two people are still standing) for breakfast in what might be a sun-dappled room if the shades worked properly.
The bottom line is that catalogs, magazines, books, Pinterest, blogs and observing other families from the outside have all led us to believe that family time has glossy expectations. The reality is that modern life is packed with obligations, sport schedules, activities, and transportation between all of these things. If I waited for everything to be perfectly in line with my “dream” of family time, it would never happen. Thankfully, family time doesn’t have to be glossy. A sweet conversation in the car, a three-handed game of poker with my husband and oldest son, breakfast with the kids after dad goes to work, sneaking away for a baseball game in the evening with just one of the kids, making something together in the kitchen to use in lunchboxes the next day, pizza delivery for dinner in the three different styles and toppings that the family likes, and a game of Rock Band with mom and dad serenading cringing kids — all qualify as family time.