“On nights you go to the gym: What do you eat for dinner? Do you eat with Daddy or not eat at all?”
We were sitting at the table eating dinner yesterday. It was a nice dinner. I baked sweet potatoes. We had broccoli and rolls, too. Everyone got to pick their protein from leftovers: hamburgers, turkey burgers, grilled chicken, or uncured, organic chicken hotdogs. Everyone was calm and eating. And then Big Girl dropped that bombshell on me.
A little background: I work. A lot. Often late into the night sitting in a single chair, so I do try and make a 7 p.m. spin class a few nights a week. When that happens I get dinner for the girls and run out around 6:35. (Get there late and you don’t get a bike. Even if you’ve paid for your spot.) I don’t eat because I find it’s difficult to spin on a full stomach. On those nights I come home and pick. A bowl of cereal, some pierogies, a sandwich — whatever happens to be around.
Big Girl’s words stung because I didn’t realize how carefully she is watching me. I am her mother. I get that. But it’s scary to see how much she sees and, even worse, the fact that she’s trying to process it all on her own. I was really glad she asked me that. Really glad. I gave her a big smile and told her that of course I ate when I got home. That after spinning my body needed fuel and that I would fall over if I didn’t eat something. (This is true. That class makes me hungry.)
Then I was quiet for a minute and told Chris that tomorrow — today, that is — and from now on we’d make sure we eat at 6 p.m. so we could sit as a family. If I don’t want my daughter to inherit the crappy relationship with food I have to make sure she interacts with it differently. And if that means I go to spin class with a half-full stomach so be it.
Do you eat dinner as a family? If so, do you think it benefits you?