Real Life Mama: Everyone brings something to the dinner table

We are about six weeks into school, and I am officially over homework. Seriously, everyone has homework like every single night. I know, I should expect that and all, but man, there is something about this year that already has my tank empty.

Maybe it is because of their grade levels this year – they are all just that much older, and I guess more homework comes with growing up. Or maybe it is because one kid has always been quick at school work but sees another kid getting extra attention on homework and has decided that she, too, may need some extra help. Or at least some extra attention.

Or maybe it is because it has been the busiest fall sports season of my life – with all four of our four kids in sports and two of our bonus littles as well. We are at a football field at least 4-5 days a week watching a kiddo play or cheer in a game. Add in all of their practices all at different times – yet just far enough apart that it makes sense to run one home before I go get the other, and I feel like I have two part-time jobs – a taxi driver and a math tutor.

And math is the worst. Well, so is science. And social studies. Okay, actually, if we aren’t doing spelling words, vocab or parts of speech, then there is a good chance that I need a few minutes to prepare (or reteach myself) before I can even start trying to help a kid.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not do it alone. Lee typically has science and social studies locked down – that man literally remembers everything. He can give you the full lecture and every vocab word plus about 10 additional things that you probably don’t even need to know for the test.

We tag team math – because we have to – for our own sanity. Both of us are actually good at math – I mean, he is a carpenter and uses numbers daily while most of my job entails numbers as well. But, long division, or multiple step problem solving or common core – whew, it can be cumbersome.

Some nights, the only thing that gets us through is the adrenaline of knowing how much we have to get done just to get to actually relax for 5-10 minutes before trying to sleep because we have to be up in 5-6 hours to do it all again.

But we do take a break — almost every single night through the week — for dinner. It is usually sometime between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., but everyone gets a break – whether homework is done yet or showers have been taken, and we sit as a family.

Sometimes, it is a well-planned-out full course meal – but let’s be honest, most times it is something we throw together quickly, or, if we are really on our game, a crockpot meal. Regardless, together – at the table – we all sit. And for at least the amount of time it takes us to shove food in our faces, there’s a break in all the evening tasks.

But still, everyone has to bring a few things to the table – easy things. A high, a low and a prayer request. Lows are optional (you do not have to have a low) but you have to find a high for the day and there is always something to pray about. Here recently, Math is at the top of that prayer list for a few of us – especially us parents.

It doesn’t take long – a minute or two for each of us. But, everyone gets a chance to share (even that certain teenager who would rather skip it). It’s a check in – a review of everyones’ day. An opportunity to shine or even complain. And a chance to ask for God’s guidance for ourselves or others.

After we go around the table, Lee compiles all of the requests into a prayer — a few minutes where we stop together as a family with God and our own handcrafted pleas.

And then, as quickly as we sat down to enjoy a meal together, we are back at it — washing dishes, solving equations, packing lunches, studying, wiping down counters, laying out clothes and finishing showers.

Time moves swiftly, homework and sports sometimes feel like they are taking over our lives. But then there’s that moment when a math concept just clicks or a word is finally spelled correctly and it is euphoric – like yes, all of this is for something good.

Much like our family dinners – when all of the chaos collides into recollection, requests and comfort.

And I know that even with all the frustration that sometimes comes with the balancing of our evenings, all too soon, this time together will pass. As exhausting as it may seem now, one day we will miss all of this. In the meantime, when it comes to our kids, I am thankful that there really isn’t anything that we are missing out on.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.