Traditionalist Bird

On Family Meal Time and the Long Hour Husband

This is a good read for those who have husbands who work long hours, which is seriously becoming more and more the trend these days due to technology. Even once a husband makes it home, if he is on salary, many employers expect you to keep working if something urgent comes up and from the employers point of view everything is urgent. There is no excuse now with smartphones and emails to not be on call when you are at home. I’ve seen countless women write in forums about how their husband took a job that said it was from 8:00-5:00 only to quickly find out he was often working till 10:00 pm (be it at the office or once home). Employers also provide employees laptops to further take away any excuse you might have as to why they can’t continue on working once home. Just like how kids get “homework”. Men do too. The end of school day and the end of of the business day doesn’t mean much more than simply that. Its simply the end of work in that environment. Many a conversations and family meals can still be interrupted with work and this is a topic I don’t see the traditionalists who have their heads up their 1950s ass ever care to discuss.

This specifically is what I want to zero in on:

“Being a wife and mom with a husband who works 12-14 hours a day, five to six days a week is a big deal, and it requires a lot more than others realize. Most of my friends’ husbands come home before dinner is served. I simply don’t know what that’s like! I always think about the family studies that have been done showing that families who eat dinner together every night are stronger, stay together, and send happier, smarter kids out into the world. Of course, as a child of the King, it would be foolish of me to believe that my God cannot rise above this statistic in our situation, but it still hurts my homemaker’s heart to know we do not have a lifestyle that allows for that type of daily family time.”

It is this sort of Norman Rockwell imagery which sets so many wives up to fail. We go into marriage with this sugar coated visions of our future family all sitting at the dinner table, talking about our day, saying prayers, etc. Not only are wives told this is biblical (if you don’t have family meal time together you must be an evil career feminist mom) but yes study after study is thrusted upon us saying if you don’t do these things such as have dinner together your family will surely face certain doom.  It puts so much pressure on wives to  live up to an image and have expectations that often lead to disappointment.

I don’t know many couples anymore where the husband comes home around 6:00pm and they all have a healthy home made meal. Its not like the families I knew growing up in the 1980s. And this isn’t because mom is working and there is no time to cook, its just technology and the hours of the modern working world very much foster an “every man for himself” environment for meal time.  The kids generally start to get cranky if not fed by 6:00, plus they need to start the bedtime routine and can’t wait much later than that and if dad isn’t home, the show must go on. Sometimes the wife will hold out to have dinner with him, but if 8:00 comes around she too will have to eat or hanger sets in.

It can be frustrating too when you make a fresh, healthy meal only to have the kids reject it and because the husband is home so late he often just comes in saying he wants a bowl of cereal. So much for all that talk from the godly women about how husbands crave home cooked, healthy meals at the end of a long day! Its just not the reality for many families and taking this traditionalist advice as if its “one size fits all” sets up too many expectations. Most days for the  modern family are about survival and getting shit done and not living out an idealistic image.

The guilt I have felt over not having family meals together most nights and living out other check items the godly traditionalists push on you is one of the reasons I had to just walk away from all of their advice and figure out what works best for my family. Otherwise resentment and anger starts to grow. This is not because I personally cared how we ate together as I only started to care about it once I started reading godly blogs and realizing this is how its “suppose to be”. That you all need to be huddled around the dinner table sharply at 6:00 and saying prayers or else the children will be ruined.

I remember once when I was neck deep in my “know it all” godly days how I judged and turned up my nose at a friend when I saw she had no dining room table in her house. They all ate around the coffee table with the TV! The horror, right! And then the reality hit that often that is what my home was like too. I had the good godly appearance of a dining table, but out of necessity would eat whenever, however made sense given the circumstances. More often than not its eating standing up while multi-tasking.

So, obviously the lesson in all this is –do what works for your family. Period. This is not the 1950s. The work schedules of men are vastly different and you can kill yourself trying to create an image, especially when your husband doesn’t even care about that image in the first place.

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59 thoughts on “On Family Meal Time and the Long Hour Husband

  1. ” Right now littlest is also into getting into the stupid toilet for some reason. I absolutely HATE how often I have to shut the door or say, “Shut the door!”

    That is frustrating. Is there any way to block the entrance to the hallway leading to the bathroom with a baby gate that the older ones can get over but he can’t? Is there any area of the house where you can put down a towel or old blanket and let him go to town with a small plastic container of water for a short time each day to sate his curiosity and maybe divert his interest in the toilet? Little ones are so exhausting!!

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  2. Two Cents Woman,

    Yes, that sounds pretty practical, because you’re right–disaster is ready to happen at any moment. Right now littlest is also into getting into the stupid toilet for some reason. I absolutely HATE how often I have to shut the door or say, “Shut the door!” So he doesn’t get in there and get all nasty. I do kinda do half of that at this point–I just try to wash my feet and armpits and put on deoderant at the beginning of the day, hopefully squeeze in a decent facewashing, but that’s rare. I honestly stopped brushing my teeth in the morning most mornings when I started having children (eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!) Yeah, these days I feel quite nasty most of the time.

    Ha ha that’s so funny about breaking that rule. My MIL and others DEFINITELY seem to think that’s the cardinal rule. Sorry. I’m a hopeless cause when it comes to that. I only wish I could even feel up to doing that.

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  3. Stone said,

    “Yikes, and break the cardinal 1950s rule of greeting hubby at door showered, shaved, full make-up, hair done properly, dress and heals! How feminist! I kid of course.”

    How is that supposed to work with the other cardinal 1950s rule of tidy home and dinner right about to come out of the oven?

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  4. “Yikes, and break the cardinal 1950s rule of greeting hubby at door showered, shaved, full make-up, hair done properly, dress and heals! ”

    Pfft…Let’s just say he isn’t at his most handsome and sweet-smelling when he walks in the door so we’re pretty much even in that dept. …..or is that too egalitarian?

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  5. Plus, I have a very imitative child, so any personal maintenance that I don’t want her to copy (for example, anything involving a razor) needs to be delayed until I have a private moment.

    We seem to be out of the water play obsession, but about half a year ago, 5 minutes was all it took for Baby Girl to stop up a bathroom sink with wads of soggy paper and to have a waterfall going down the bathroom counter and onto the floor.

    Lord only knows what she would have managed to do with a whole 20-30 minutes at her disposal if I were cooking dinner.

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  6. “Mostly, I would save my shower until hubby was home.”

    Yikes, and break the cardinal 1950s rule of greeting hubby at door showered, shaved, full make-up, hair done properly, dress and heals! How feminist! I kid of course.

    2 min rinse off showers are dobale, but to shave at the same time with young ones running around um no, that waits till the weekend or I would end up a bloody mess with each shriek of “mommy” a knick here and there.

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