Joyful Chaos: Dining With Eleven


Listen as I struggled to gather my crew every night for a family meal.

“Oh good, you’re done barn chores. Perfect timing; dinner is almost ready.”

“Two more minutes, everybody!”

“Joseph I’ll help after we eat, okay?”

“Mary, please run up and open Jean’s door and shut off the music.”

‘Dinner is ready!”

“Grace, I know you love that book sweetheart but, remember, no reading at the dinner table.”

“Where’s Mark?”

“Honey would you lift up Daniel into the high chair?”

“Are we all here? Anyone missing?”

Ah, dinner time in a large family.

Dinner was the highlight of the day with everyone clamoring to share their news or simply squeeze in comments into the cacophony of voices. It was a humorous symphony which sounded perfectly in tune to my ears. High pitched baby squeals combined with loud, boisterous little boys.and the quavering of a male teen voice balanced teenage girl’s chatter. Dad’s reassuring bass tones soothed my shrill calls for everyone to listen to the toddler’s newest word. The highlight of this often unruly symphony was the spontaneous laughter punctuating the entire meal.

Life around the dinner table was relaxed and happy because I allowed my children to behave in age appropriate ways. I did not demand adult perfection. The consequences of this decision were messy but well worth the time it took to mop up after meal time. It meant I did not shovel neat, tidy mouthfuls of food into a toddler because we let little people feed themselves as soon as they reached for the spoon. It meant including three-year olds in meal prep, sending five and six-year olds running out to the garden for vegetables and allowing a ten-year old to make the dessert. In other words we valued participation over a neat and tidy kitchen and orderly meal times.

Now I am reaping the rewards of decisions which sent some visitors into sputtering, spirals of incredulity as they eyed my kitchen and the messy faces of my little people after a meal. I feel vindicated when I look at my grown-up kids; they all love to cook and entertain, especially for each other. Just drop by for a quick hello and inevitably they will cajole you to stay for a delicious meal.

It is a simple fact- there is no better way to form deep relationships than conversation over a home-cooked meal. In fact there is no better way to encourage the development of a warm supportive family than with great food and relaxed conversation around the dinner table.

God delights more in joyful chaos than in miserable, tight perfection.

9 thoughts on “Joyful Chaos: Dining With Eleven

  1. I came from a very small family, and now have my own small little family—I have always wanted, yearned for, a large family—when I was young I loved watching Eight is Enough —telling my mom that I hoped one day to have a large family of my own—but in God’s perfect way, there are just the three of us. . .my husband, our son and myself—but we are now 4 as our son married last year.
    I think it must be something deep within my soul, of being adopted, that longs for the support, the love, the fussing, the balancing, of “more”. . .
    Blessings Melanie, the mother of more. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. and I came from a family with one sister, had never held a baby and thought I would be a nun libraian!! All my kids changed me, healed me but broke me first because I was a neat , controlling, perfectionist, bookworm intellectual


      1. and by the way this wayward little Episcopal kid had also once thought she’d be a nun–yes, a Catholic nun, a poor clare. . .so conversion, jumping ship, shifting allegiance, or as the truth be told, finally finding my way, has been in the works for a lifetime 🙂
        It was one of our priests who discouraged my pursuit of being a nun, telling me there was more for me to do. . .go figure 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great post!!! Your family sounds delightful.

    I, too, believe there is nothing sweeter than sharing a home cooked meal with my family–and then lingering at the table talking, not worrying about starting the dishes just yet. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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