Baby Meal Times: An Unholy Communion

Meal times are a bear now. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t feel like a gladiator entering a cage match every time I sit down to “enjoy” a meal with the babies. A has taken to blowing angry raspberries and throwing up her hands like she’s casting a spell on me. And somehow she always knocks a spoonful of food out of my hands.

Actually, they normally only eat – Mommy and Daddy eat separately, usually afterwards. Or in my case, never because I forget when it’s breakfast or lunch and end up snacking on their leftovers. Perhaps that’s why we unconsciously try to shovel the food into their mouths. We’re hungry and by the time it’s dinner time for us I’m usually a little crabby. I keep my eyes fixed on that light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel called bedtime during the witching hour, which usually strikes at around 5, and I find myself crawling to the finish line on my fingernails.

I’m being a little dramatic. It’s usually not so bad. There’s a lot of frustrated screaming – and not just the babies – but also lots of laughing and chasing and dancing. We have some really beautiful moments and their smiles are all I need to forget those moments of chaos and insanity.

But food. Man. Something I thought was innate and natural – tied all of humanity together – it is an elusive and mysterious concept in this house. Sometimes it’s simple and straightforward (and I have a brief moment when I think I deserve an award). Mostly I’m wrought with uneasiness and guilt about whether they are 1) eating enough, 2) eating what they want, and 3) not forming a bad association with food when I try to trick them into eating something. Or when I curse outloud because the baby has thrown food at me or thrown up food on me.

But somehow this is still a bizarrely palpable and beautiful expression of communion to me. Maybe even if it’s not what I expected or think it should be each day – there’s a hidden sacredness in the mess (like what Anne Lamott says). Maybe when we laugh at the food being thrown on the ground or clap each time a piece of cheese makes it into their mouths it is an expression of connection at an unspeakable level. There’s celebration. There’s gratitude. Maybe when I surrender to it all and let the babies lead a little that’s when I’m fed and nourished, too. Maybe despite my OCD tendencies and swearing here and there, it’s still holy, afterall. Because there’s vulnerability and perspective, and transformation happening and all I’m required to do is take it in.

(Photo from August 2011 – A is almost 6 months here)

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