The boys and I had a good visit this weekend. We arrived home a little after noon for a sit-down family lunch of chicken soup and crackers. Eating meals together at the dining room table has been a regular occurrence since our family began. Growing up this wasn’t as much of a practice for us, at least not in the junior high and high school years. When I first started getting to know Josh’s family one of the first things I noticed was the way they did their meals. They had meat, potatoes, a vegetable, and bread nearly every night. On Sunday afternoons they went out for lunch with my father-in-law’s side of the family. Sunday evenings were at my husband’s grandparents’ house with my mother-in-law’s family. At home they ate their supper at the dining room table.
Sometimes we ate at the table, and sometimes we didn’t. My favorite place to eat was in the living room just casually sitting around. We sometimes had supper together as a family with a meal, and other times it was whatever you could find after coming home from games or practice. My favorite meal to make was a bowl of spaghetti, with no sauce and lots of butter. We didn’t even own a dining room table at that time. For years we ate off a borrowed table from church. I remember as a kid eating off of an upside-down box, but that was because we’d just moved to a new apartment. Sometimes Dad would leave the house long after suppertime and come home from the store with steak and tator tots and eat a meal at 10PM. I didn’t like steak back then. It was too hard.
With the exception of the first year or so, it took a while after being married, probably 8-10 years, before I could visit my parents house and not be deeply annoyed by something. When you’re living with someone else, establishing your own life together and new ways of doing things, it can be jarring to return to a former way, especially if those ways seem out of line with your redeveloping standard of normal. I was angry with my parents for a lot of years as I wrestled with flaws I did not understand. My dad has said this about his relationship with his dad, that he too was angry with his own father until he was able to look at his dad and his father’s life with more compassion. For some I think this takes more time. For yet others, they seem to come away from childhood without much needing to be worked out. It isn’t something they think about.
I can still remember the day I wasn’t angry anymore. These years I’m truly just happy to see them. I’ve sometimes wondered if at least one of the reasons God put the commandment to honor our father and our mother is because he knew just how much the human heart could be angry. He knew how much time could be wasted and lost. I know that isn’t everybody’s situation, but it was mine. My second life revealed to me things about my first life that were good and rare. It also opened my eyes to significant areas of weakness. When it comes to something like marital communication, I’ve come to think of it as an exchange taking place between two people, one of whom is deaf, and the other who is blind. It makes any talk of a healing Jesus all the more beautiful. (Oh no, not hope, not that…) And though God painfully doesn’t heal everything in this life, it doesn’t change the word of life that in him the eyes of the blind are opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
The table my parents have now isn’t big. It was just right enough for the boys to sit down and eat their breakfast this morning. It seems these days Mom and Dad take turns cooking. This morning Mom made scrambled eggs, waffles, and beef bacon. I took my plate and carried it into the living room to eat where Mom and Grandma were.