American Value Meal

4 06 2013

ice cream kidsToday, as I was leaving a coffee shop meeting with a contractor, I walked past an ice cream place. It was a sunny, warm June day, and the decadent scent of fresh waffle cone was being piped out to the sidewalk to tempt passers-by. I smiled at the woman with her two small children sitting out front, cones dripping with red dye no. 30. Had it not been so close to dinner time I could have been swayed.

As I bravely passed without stopping, I turned towards the rows of parked cars, and saw an American tragedy. There, sitting in a shiny new car, a dad was buckling his seatbelt with one hand while gripping a large cup of ice cream in the other. His daughter was safely in the backseat, ready to hit the road.

ice cream dad“Really?” I thought to myself, “can’t this poor family afford just 10 minutes to actually sit here, on this gloriously sunny afternoon, to enjoy their ice cream and each others company?” No, cus they’re American. In America, we do not pause. We do not relish. We do not appreciate the simple things in life. No, here we are always rushing, and on to the next thing. Even when we take the time to treat ourselves to something as delicious as this, we must counter that indulgence by multi-tasking and finding ways to be simultaneously productive.

It gives new meaning to the phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Sure, that little girl in the backseat got to stop for her ice cream, but she paid for it by giving up a few minutes to BE with her dad. They couldn’t trade bites from the backseat, nor could her dad help her to catch the melting ice cream before it dripped. Instead, he got to clean up the mess that was left in the car.

~

A few weeks ago, we were driving to a neighboring state for a weekend trip. Baeating in car baboonsnk was in the car, and we had a long way to go, so Bethany and I packed snacks for the road. Instead of stopping, we ate small bites of sustenance from our seats. Bank looked at us and laughed. Confused, I asked him what he was laughing at. He smiled and said, “That SO COOL! We eat in the car. Very American! We no do that back home.” I paused, bite in hand, and looked at Bethany. We both felt a pang of guilt.Yep. We WERE being very American, and we didn’t even realize it.

~

Since our Thai son arrived, I have had to adjust to having a son. As a family, we are his structure, and as a non-traditional family, I feel even more obligated to uphold some of those traditional American values (and withhold others, like, eating in the car). I don’t care how crazy work is, and even if I have to go upstairs and work another 2 hours from home in the evening, I will be home for dinner every night to sit at the table as a family. This is a big deal, and a big transition.

american 50s dinnerAlthough I thought that Bethany and I were actually pretty good at eating meals together, what I quickly realized is how often we scrounged together for meals when we were too tired to cook. Now, however, this is not an option. When we are feeding three people instead of two, and responsible for sending a school lunch packed for ‘the boy,’ it suddenly makes sense to prepare something specifically for dinner every night to be enjoyed in unison.

Having a family dinner together every night has been a very pleasurable experience, despite the added work. We are blessed to have one parent home to take on such tasks, with her flexible schedule as a full time student. In fact, Bethany has embraced her role as the mother wholeheartedly. She packs his lunch every night with care, often including sweet gestures like his favorite sweet treat.

It’s almost comical how much our life feels like a 50s sitcom these days. When I arrive home from work, exhausted from a long commute, she greets me at the door with a smile and a kiss, and dinner ready to serve. It’s like I married a tattooed, five-foot-tall June Cleaver, if Ward was a lesbian with with a Thai son.june-cleaver

Despite our non-traditional household, I believe that some American traditions truly hold their value, and are worth aspiring to. I know that our days of being a single-income household are short-lived, but while it’s here, I am enjoying the pleasures that come with it. Despite our family structure, we will ALWAYS take time to appreciate the little things every day. And if I’m going to splurge for an ice cream, I’m gonna get a double scoop in a waffle cone… and I’m gonna enjoy every last bite of it with my loved one.

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One response

4 06 2013
Emily

I’m almost crying with laughter at the image of Lesbian Ward Cleaver. 🙂

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