"I'm making chili for dinner. It's homemade, so I know it's gluten-free for you."
My sister's voice on the other end of the phone made me smile. If there's one person in my clan who makes me feel nurtured, it's my little sis.
Of course she does -- she's got her Sun in Cancer. Now that she and her family have moved back here to NY after living in Florida for nine years, I'm one happy camper. There are many things about Antonietta's presence that fills me with joy but one thing in particular has me especially giddy... family dinners.
Good food, good conversation
You see, in my family we all grew up with a solid dinner ritual. Every night at the same time my father would come home from work and my mother, father, sister, brother, and I would sit down to a proper home cooked meal. Three courses at least.
We'd talk about our day and work out whatever squabbles were building up. In addition, we'd suffer through one of my father's lectures about responsibility, values and family, or laugh over stories. And now you can get a better sense of the position you hold within your own home and how you affect the ones you love with a Family Celtic Cross Tarot reading.
Sundays were even better because the entire extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather at my Nonna's house for dinner. This was more like a seven course meal, complete with Venetian hour dessert.
Divide and conquer
After dinner all the women in the family would gather in the kitchen for the clean up after party while the men sat around the dining room table playing cards and drinking. The men thought they were having more fun. Ha! The joke was on them! If you could be a fly on the kitchen wall at my Nonna's house I'm sure you'd know where the party really happened. Some of my best memories revolve around Nonna's kitchen table in the company of my mom, aunts, sister and cousins.
When I became a mother I assumed that I'd carry on the family dinner tradition. It seemed logical and effortless.
Unfortunately, I was dead wrong.
My life took an unexpected turn, like I'm sure many of you reading this can relate to. I became a single mother when my son was seven and my daughter was five. This summer my kids will be fourteen and twelve.
Time flies faster than any fly on the wall.
Too many plates spinning
Over the years I've had my share of struggles. I've tried to keep it all together and establish some type of security for my kids. Like most single parents, I've made plenty of mistakes along the way but my heart has always been in the right place. I do the best I can.
In my case, I worked feverishly to build a successful career in a most unusual profession. To do this required many personal sacrifices -- a few I didn't even realize I made until it was too late.
One of them was the family dinner.
I don't have a normal work schedule. When you own your own business, and take freelance jobs to supplement your income, you work when you have to. Usually that's all the time.
But here's the downfall. In all the chaos of raising kids alone my children and I lost something.
Family dinner time.
For us, there is no set time around the dinner table. Although I love to cook, I rarely have time for making anything but a quick meal. Most nights, I'm busy working when the rest of the world is eating dinner. My son is hardly home at dinner time and my daughter is one of those kids who will typically eat in front of the television set.
A schedule of their own...
That, if I'm being honest, breaks my heart the most. I never set out to do this but the reality is that over the years I had to work and it was easy to allow my daughter to eat dinner in the company of the Disney Channel.
Today, she prefers this. She actually tells me that she LIKES our life the way it is and ENJOYS eating dinner in front of the TV during the week. I will never understand this. I feel like I've failed her in the most miserable way.
What made this feeling even worse happened last week over my sister's fantastic chili dinner.
My daughter doesn't have that same reaction of anticipation that I did as a child when dinnertime was announced. She begrudgingly pulls herself away from the TV and sits at the table with her ear buds attached to her iPhone and listens to music.
She actually thinks this is ok. It infuriates me because my nieces and nephews were raised differently. They have a proper dinner together every night like I did growing up.
I started to yell at my daughter because in my view, she was being disrespectful. This is not what you do at the dinner table! We are so lucky now to have family to eat with again. Blessed! But she doesn't see this.
Of course she doesn't, my sister tells me. How could she? She has a different life experience.
The caring Crab
My sister stopped me in my tracks. All of the Cancer planets in the sky right now are truly pushing my home and family buttons. Mercury Retrograde in Cancer, the recent New Moon in Cancer and now Mars in Cancer.
Here I am, trying desperately to get my daughter to appreciate the traditions I grew up with and embrace them ... without ever being able to consistently expose them to her. And I feel so guilty for that.
My daughter insists she loves our life the way it is. Bless her heart. She doesn't know better. She doesn't know what she's missing out on.
Maybe, just maybe, I can teach her.