the best thing about blogging

This week, I think I figured out the best thing about blogging: how much you learn from the readers who take time to respond.

I posted on family dinners earlier this week– to wit, the lack thereof in our house– and thought I’d hear a few “amen, sister” type comments. Instead, I heard from many of you about how you DO have family dinners in your house, how you make them work against all odds, and why you think they matter. This wasn’t at all what I was expecting- which made it all the more exciting. And stressful too, since I actually asked if there were mothers like me out there, and heard from exactly zero of you in response.

You all have inspired me. Two nights ago, I sat down to dinner with all three of my children. “We’re trying something different tonight,” I said. “We’re all going to sit here nicely in our chairs, and talk about our day. None of us are going to get up, even if we’re done.”

Seamus got up.

ME: I said *don’t* get up, Shea.
SEAMUS: But I need a spoon.
ME: I’ll get it.
SEAMUS: No, I want to get it.
ME: No. Sit down, I’ll get it.
SEAMUS: No, I want to get it.

We were off to a great start! I was ready to dunk my head in the sink. But when Seamus was once again seated and fully spooned, the heavens smiled upon us:

SEAMUS: I’ll say grace.

Grace? I grew up saying grace every night in my house. (Still do, when I’m at my parents’ table.)   But I didn’t even know my kids new what saying grace was.

SEAMUS: We say grace at school.
CONNOR: I want to say it!
SEAMUS: Let’s both say it.

And gol’durn it, they both recited the sweetest prayer about thankfulness and appleseeds and the Lord. It was like Rod and Todd Flanders walked in. 

Not that that lasted too long. There was a considerable amount of bickering, and sliding off chairs, and poking, and spilling, and an infinitesimal amount of eating. When Maggie asked if she could get down, and I said no, she just asked every five seconds until I said yes.

But I did manage to have several pleasant minutes of conversation with her brothers, and now I know who likes who in second grade, crucial information I might never be privy to otherwise.

It worked a little bit. I’m so glad I tried. I’ll be doing it again. Thank you all for inspiring me.

The other best thing about blogging, as Courtney said in the comments, was that this was a judgment-free conversation, which is a lot harder to find on Urban Baby or what-have-you. No one was saying their way of doing things was best; in fact, one Anonymous wrote that this discussion just proved “there are countless ways to show love and have family togetherness.” I think that’s true. I hope so, since the boys and I are only on page 34 of Harry Potter Part Four, which means I’ll be reading it out loud until Valentine’s Day if I’m LUCKY. I hope, when they grow up and can’t claim a family dinner each evening, that they’ll remember: I did an awesome Dumbledore.

Further reading? happens to have two stories on family dinners on their website this week: the first (by Sandra Gordon) on why they’re so important (I know, I know), the other (by Erin Zammett Ruddy) on why it’s not so easy when you have two kids under three. I enjoyed them both!