Monday, May 23, 2011

Mom, can we eat out tonight?

For me, there’s nothing better than a good home-cooked meal and conversation with my family at the dinner table at the end of a very long day. So when my children began to ask me about eating out at restaurants immediately after I picked them up from school, I became a tad bit concerned. But when they started to name a long laundry list of restaurant chains, I became both concerned and annoyed with their request.

“Mom, how about that Mongolian grill restaurant,” my oldest daughter Sierra blurted out one day. And my five-year-old son Nathan, well he prefers rotisserie baked chicken, honey chicken and rice, and let’s not forget the old-time favorite –  chicken nuggets and fries (although I recently found out that he only wants the latter to collect a new toy).

When I was growing up, eating out was a luxury that didn’t come around very often.  Unlike my children, I grew up in a rural area. When I left home from school I never saw any golden arches or a billboard with bright, bold images of food plastered to it.

After hearing their requests day after day, I started asking myself, do we really eat out that much as a family. The answer was simple – NO.  And besides, I’m come from a family of good cooks, so I take special pride in preparing delicious meals for my family. Although based on my kids’ comments about eating out, one might think that I never cook at home, which is far from the truth. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at home on most weekdays, and we eat out occasionally on the weekend.

Passing by so many restaurants and billboards on the drive home may indeed entice their appetites before arriving at home. So I guess I shouldn’t become too annoyed when they ask to eat out again. But it’s what my daughter said recently that finally eased my concerns.  We have continued my family tradition – and that of many other families – of having a large meal at home on Sundays after church. When my daughter walked into the kitchen one Sunday after church she inhaled deeply and took in all of the smells coming from the crock pot and oven and said, “Mama, something smells good, and I can’t wait to eat.” Her younger brother agreed and added, “Mom you’re the best cook ever.”

So for a brief moment on a Sunday afternoon my concern about their requests to eat out faded because I knew that they felt the same comfort and joy that I did as a child on Sundays gathering together as a family and sharing a delicious meal.  Even though I know this feeling will be short-lived and on Monday afternoon they will once again say, “Mom, can we eat out tonight?” And I will once again roll my eyes, and this time maybe giggle a bit, and say, “No, we’re eating at home tonight.”

Amy Shields is the mother of an adult son, Corey, 20, Sierra, 8, and Nathan 5. She continues to do some work with Texas Health Resources, but she spends most of her time with her beautiful children. Amy is also busy pursing her master’s degree in Communication at the University of Texas – Arlington.

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