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Adventures in Motherhood

Head of the table

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Published on Thu, Dec 3, 2009 by By Courtney Jensen

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I recently inherited a large and lovely dining table from my parents. Originally purchased when I was four years old, it’s been a timeless piece where many loved ones have sat around and enjoyed a meal together over the years.

It’s the kind of quality table which can withstand the weathering of holiday meals, and many of years of storage once replaced with something more “updated”.  Well, my husband Michael and I just bailed it out of it’s storage cell, dusted it off and brought it to our home just in time for this past Thanksgiving.

As I began to set out the place settings and name cards, I paused to ponder where to place the guests. In spite of the seating capacity of this bahemith table, we were only hosting my parents and our family of four this year.

Even so, it was suddenly a challenge to figure out where to seat my parents. They always sit on the ends of these table situations, right? Upon further thought I’ve realized that now since the table resides in our own home, and we have two little people of own, I suppose we head up the table.

Besides, knowing the kids sit together on one side, I think my parents would enjoy the view of their grandchildren sitting directly across the table from them. So I set up the nameplates accordingly.

When the folks had arrived and everyone was seated at the table we joined hands and bowed heads for grace. After a few moments of awkward silence, eyes peeked open in search of who was going to say the prayer. 

Michael and I were waiting for Grandpa Dave to do what he does so well and start us off with the usual blessing. To Michael he says “go ahead, it’s your house.”  Oh my, so we cook the turkey and say grace? This head of the table gig carries more load than I realized, maybe it wasn’t worth the extra elbowroom after all!

Later, as we worked in teams in a gingerbread house decorating contest, I observed my two and four year old slurping up frosting from the tubes. I nagged and reminded them accordingly about the rules of the frosting, as my mom smiled and chuckled to herself in that sweet way that grandmas do. After all, it’s been years since her days of the  eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head mode. It’s now my turn to serve this duty of motherhood. 

In other typical sweet grandmother fashion, my mom also brought a few special things for the boys.

It’s no wonder the boys love all their grandparents so much. They bring sweets, toys, smiles and marathon stores of energy for the little ones. While I, the mother, appear much more like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Having spent the morning holding toys hostage until sibling squabbles improved, I realized My heart isn’t two sizes too small, my jeans are! And they are cutting off the circulation to my midsection, while the kids are fighting and cranberries on the stove are burning and the clock is ticking until company comes. It’s no wonder we’re a little shorter on patience and sweet smiles than our parents at this stage in the game.

While Andrew was enjoying his new gift from grandma, I spotted my younger son’s widening eyes and grabbing hands reaching toward the object. Another sibling squabble was swelling like a tsunami.

Before I could exhale in frustration and begin the negotiations between brothers, my mom gently (but frantically) tugs on my arm and says “Courtney! Make him give it back to Andrew, he’ll break it!” 

See, discipline is no fun for grandparents, swift action from the Grinch mom always works best. That way, kindness-associations are kept in tact.

It all the more confirms my theories. Life has a certain order of promotions. Naturally we grow our way into the bigger shoes that mom and dad used to fill, and we move to the ends of the dining table in our homes. We have kids of our own and inherit our parent’s voices. And perhaps most valuably, we see our parents enjoy the role of grandparenting, possibly one of the best promotions parenting has to offer.

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