When we first got married, it was hot and steamy every night. I still fantasize about how pleasurable it always was. We took our time, slow and uninterrupted, savoring the experience. If the first time wasn’t enough, we went back for more, again and again, until we were satisfied. We tried it in different places — the kitchen table, the couch, the bed, sometimes even out on the patio.
But then we had kids, and dinnertime has never been the same.
People warn you about a lot of stuff before you embark upon the journey of parenthood. Unfortunately, nobody mentions that you will not enjoy another hot meal for approximately a decade. (Maybe six years if you have an only child, but that’s being optimistic.)
You can slave away over the stove and prepare a Michelin star quality meal, or plop down a plate of microwavable chicken nuggets and mac and cheese — either way, you’ll have to run the gamut of mealtime preparations before you can take a single bite, so it will all be cold and unappetizing by the time you eat.
First, you have to dish up everyone else’s portions. If you have more than one or two kids, this can take a substantial amount of time. In the event of toddlers, they will require not only a specific plate and set of utensils (“Noooo! The greeeeeeen plate!”), but a beverage that they will inevitably argue with you about (“I want juice. No, milk! No, in the dinosaur cup!”).
If your kids are picky, you’ll have to take an extra few minutes to fish out any offending bits of onion, carrot, or anything else that could possibly be deemed “yucky” or “crunchy” — or at least conceal it.
Since you’re a conscientious parent, you’ll invest a few more moments to ensure that everything on the plate is in little non-choking-hazard-sized pieces. Tack on a bit more time if there’s meat involved, or if you are weirdly anal about making your pieces uniformly sized (not that I’m like that or anything, ahem).
Then — and here’s the ironic part — you will have to blow until you’re on the verge of hyperventilating because everything is “too hot.”
The moment you sit down and raise your own fork, someone will spill. They will have 4 ounces of juice, but it will miraculously turn into a 12-ounce puddle and take you 10 years and an entire roll of paper towels to clean up. This will make you realize you forgot to pass out napkins, which are obviously a necessity.
Somebody will drop their spoon and require a new one because the dog licked it. And there will be no more clean spoons in the drawer because they’ve all gone to whatever mysterious place spoons go, so you’ll have to wash one. Or at least rinse the dog slobber off the first one. Or just polish it off on your shirt — I’m not here to judge.
Somebody will demand salt and/or pepper, and then they will ask for a new portion because there’s too much salt and/or pepper. Somebody will point out, in a very offended manner, that you forgot to dole out the gummy vitamins. Somebody will finish their food while all of this is going on, and ask for a second helping, after which you will have to start from square one with the serving and the cutting and the blowing.
Going to a restaurant might increase your odds of getting a hot meal ever so slightly, but there’s still the cutting and blowing to grapple with. And you have to pay six bucks for a kids’ meal so your child can eat two French fries and pick the coating off the corn dog.
One day your kids will be older, and a leisurely dinner time will be possible once again — I mean, until they have evening sports practices and extracurricular activities and friends ringing the doorbell and you’re wolfing things down without chewing.
Hey, I said a leisurely dinner time would be possible. It’s in the same manner of possibility as, like, winning the lottery or spontaneously combusting.
In the meantime, though, here’s my best advice: A decent microwave is a great investment. Put that on your baby registry.