Mission First: Why Our MilFam Set A Dinner Hour

Mission First: Why Our MilFam Set A Dinner Hour

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Dinner is Hell. I cannot tell you how much Homeskillet’s (read: my hubby) schedule has sucked from day one in the fabulous United States Air Force.  Eight years in and it just gets more and more ridiculous and less and less predictable. They weren’t joking when they said mission first and all that jazz.  We’ve lost a Saturday or Sunday, or a Saturday and Sunday, or a Christmas Morning (yes…a Christmas Morning), and then there was the ever awesome deployment that was supposed to be three months out that wound up being three days into a vacation.  You know, the usual.

I’ll never forget the first time I truly understood the phrase mission first.  It was our first duty assignment EVER.  We opted to be a one car family, which was cool because we were kid-less.  I’d drop him off to work at 7am-ish and then I’d grab breakfast on the go and head to work myself.  On this particular day, I had to run some errands and had plans to pick him up around 5:30pm.  I parked in the carpark (guess where we were stationed?) and gave him a heads up call to let him know I was there to pick him up.  From prior experience, I’d known to bring a magazine, because “wrapping things up” (oh how I loathe those words) can take anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes…well, except for this time.  I’m not sure exactly when I fell asleep, but around 8pm a very nice Major knocked on my window to let me know my that the car lights were still on.  And there was some drool on the window.  Not amusing and extremely embarrasing.

You would think I would’ve gotten the hint from that point forward, but no.  Trying to nail down Homeskillet’s arrival time became a battleground of mass proportions in our relationship.  Every day, I’d call him, just once, around 4pm to get a check on what time he planned to be home…not because I longed for his presence…which of course I did…but mainly because I needed to know if my plans to make salmon for dinner was a good move or not.  Or, perhaps, whether or not he’d see the munchkins off to bed…or whether or not I would see him before I hit the sack…you get the idea.  And I know you know this story.

The “what time are you getting home” throwdown became a pretty significant part of our dynamics.  And I found myself fighting the tide.  He’d always have a reason why he wasn’t able to be home.  A final tasker.  Called in by the boss.  Someone caught him on the way out.  He got sucked into a project and didn’t realize the time.  A meeting ran late.  He’d told me yesterday he wouldn’t be home until late.  The dog ate his watch and a unicorn shat on his car.  Whatever.

I’d try to hold off dinner…fuming about how inconsiderate my other half was.  Didn’t he know how difficult the hours between 4pm-7:30pm were for me?  Being a chef, ringmaster, entertainer, dance party enthusiast, bath-er, cleaning the dishes, getting the kids off to bed…and all while trying to coordinate a family dinner that accommodated everyone’s schedule (except mine)?

We’d argue the finer points of why I needed heads up…he’d tell me it was out of my control.  I refused to accept what is…surely he’s exaggerating, it can’t be that unpredictable.  Ultimately, we decided that it was somewhere in the middle.  There were times he could’ve and should’ve wrapped up and stepped away to be home for dinner and other times it was totally out of his control.   I admitted that I lost a bit of understanding, and I needed to be a bit more flexible…or rather inflexible.

Our Solution?  The Dinner Hour.

Dinner is served at precisely 6pm, give or take 15 minutes or so.  If Homeskillet is home, great.  If not, so be it.  It takes the guess work out of planning around his unpredictable schedule and it keeps me sane so I’m not playing a game of double dutch with my do-I-don’t-I start cooking now cha-cha.  Sometimes, he gets home early and we treat it like a treat.  Sometimes he gets home part way into dinner and he joins us as soon as he walks through the door.  Sometimes we don’t see him until after dinner, and he postpones his meal until the bath-time rush is over.  That’s what the microwave was  invented for, right?

Setting our dinner hour removed an argument and returned harmony to our evenings.  How do  you accommodate Mission First in your MilFam day-to-day?

Image by uberculture on Flickr Creative Commons.

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