The Table Experiment
What comes to mind when you think about what goes on at “the table”? Eating, family, friends, food, messes, laughs, learning, talking, correcting, teaching, homework, sharing, serving, celebrating, and so much more.
Thanks to Joanna Gaines, I’ve been on a yearlong mission to find the perfect Farmhouse table for my dining room. The idea was to replace the heavy mission style chairs and dining set I bought before kids, and look for a dreamy farmhouse set to create a casual atmosphere where we would spend more time lingering at the table. While in the process of this search, I think I was meant to learn a lesson.
Why did I desire this change? Our mealtimes were often spent at the kitchen island, distracted by the TV, backpacks and all the beeps and rings going off that our meals together were more frustrating than fun. The kids were leaving the table to find a toy, whining about the food, or my husband’s phone was constantly ringing. With all of this confusion and distraction, I began to dread the dinner table. Each meal meant work: coming up with a meal that satisfies all parties, then the time to prepare it, serve it, and finally sit down to eat together for all of 5 minutes before it was over! Everyone got up and went on their merry way to the next thing they wanted to do. And I was left with the mess and a disappointed heart.
As women, we want to serve our family a comforting and warm meal. We want to feed their bellies and their souls. I realized I would lose my patience the most at dinner because my kids were not meeting my expectations of sitting and enjoying a meal together.
I recently heard a statistic that we will serve more than 19,000 meals to our children over the course of 18 years. WOW! I think this table thing is important, right? The good news is: we have plenty of opportunity to tweak and improve!
Over the summer, we spent more time eating outside on our deck. I noticed how the kids stayed seated longer, how they ate better, and we talked more. Why? There were fewer distractions, we were looking at each other eye to eye from across the table. The table was working. On the other hand, the kitchen island was the “hub” of the home, the center point. But the table was special—it was an experience, separated from other parts of the house. It felt more relaxed and not hurried.
I had decided when the cooler days arrived we would be eating our dinners at the dining room table. I made it special. I would set the table pretty, try new recipes, and make more side dishes. I would light a candle and sometimes even make a dessert. I decided this was a priority.
It was a success! Everyone ate and enjoyed their food more. They stayed and talked longer, sometimes even leading into a trivia game or listening to one of the kids practicing the piano. I felt I had unopened the “secret of the table”. Here is where we would learn how to be friends, how to have manners, how to talk with each other about our day, how to be creative or imagine and most of all, connect!
The table is about connection. I was leaving behind the kitchen island with the backpacks, the homework sheets, the cell phones, the dirty dishes in sight, the TV in sight and I was entering into that pause which is found at the table.
The table matters. Time together matters. Connection matters. Don’t lose hope. You have a few thousand more chances to get it “right”!
And as for that Farmhouse table I was in search of…?
Well, I never found it.
But I think I found what my heart was searching for all along…
…it was the meaning behind that table.
It was connection!