Eight Years and Three Tables

“Mommy I only like the oranges,” Caden tells me. I look across the kitchen table to see his plate untouched but for the oranges.

“You need to eat something else,” I say, “Then you can have more oranges.”

He scowls behind his plate. “I already tried everything and I don’t like it,” he says, though I know he’s lying. (That he’s tried it. This is an end-of-the-week scraps-for-dinner kind of meal so it’s probably true he doesn’t like it.)

I ignore him; I don’t want the fight. I’ve already gotten up to get Nolan some milk and then my own water where I’d forgotten it on the counter. Nolan suddenly jumps up and runs over to play with his new LEGO set in the living room. Caden follows.

“Boys!” I say, “Put your butts in your chairs! It’s time to eat.” This happens again, once, twice, three times before the LEGO set gets taken away for good for a full 24 hours. This is all punctuated by Tyson joining us at the table (delayed because he was fixing the sprinkler system outside), another request for oranges (only oranges), Brooklyn telling me she doesn’t like dinner, either (sigh). I’m out of my chair more than not. Five minutes into dinner and I’ve eaten three bites.

“Hey Google, set a timer for five minutes,” I call across the room, “Okay, everyone needs to sit here until the timer beeps. I don’t care if you eat. You just have to sit here and talk to us.”

Cue more general anarchy, moans, groans, spaghetti-limbed bodies draped across the bench. I get in another few bites.

Once Google relieves them, the boys dash off to play. Nolan, frustrated by the whole experience of needing to actually sit in his chair to eat dinner, grabs the long, thick, wooden pole we use as a security measure to keep the patio door closed and locked. He starts swinging it around, though this is something he knows he’s not supposed to touch, much less flail around the room. Tyson and I corner him around the kitchen table - me on one side, Tyson on the other - and I almost take a pole to the face before grabbing it away. (“Goddamnit” is something that may have come out of my mouth.) Tyson walks him over to the bottom step for a three-minute time out.

“Well this was enjoyable,” I say to Tyson, the first words I’ve said to him since dinner began, “I’m leaving.” And I abandon my mostly-untouched dinner and step over Nolan to walk out the door.


We’re eight years into marriage and this is our third dining room table. Our first table wasn’t really a dining table. Which was fitting, since we didn’t really have a dining room.

It was a card table, black, the kind with legs that fold in. We had black folding chairs to match, just to keep it classy. It sat on the carpet and wobbled a little when we cut chicken or pizza slices.

We only had four chairs: more people than that and someone had to sit on the futon, an arm’s-length away in the living room. Though we rarely had company. We were newlyweds and a state away from anything familiar; it was usually just us at the table.

I remember how silent our whole apartment complex was, how we sometimes turned on the TV while we ate just to hear someone talk besides ourselves. Eight years ago and our table was the antithesis in every way of what it is now.


Our second table was gifted to us by my parents for our first anniversary. I’d been eyeing the set at Target, a small, square table and chairs. We’d moved across town and despite having a larger apartment, it didn’t really have a dining room, either. We shoved the table against the wall, pulled it and the fourth chair out anytime we had guests.

And we had guests, now. After our move we joined a small group, made friends. We hosted our small group and baby showers and Thanksgiving and Downton Abbey watch parties. Our early memories around this table involve lots of friends and bottles of Spotted Cow.

Two years later we brought our twin babies home, setting their carseats on top of that table. The same table where we ate foil-pan casseroles dropped off by friends, our dinners now punctuated by cries. Many nights I walked back and forth during the dinnertime witching hours as I tried to eat and nurse two babies simultaneously. Later I would set my laptop on that table (and often a beer) as I began to write again, stretching out my rusty fingers and brain to put words on a page.

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This table moved with us to the Twin Cities, along with my 20-weeks pregnant belly, just a year and a half later. We brought that table and the memories of friends and new babies seated around it with us.


We’re on our third kitchen table now. The second one was absurdly small for our new space: our first house that, yes, has an actual dining room. This table has a stainless steel top: smooth, flat, easy to clean. Any hesitation I felt about the coordinating cream-colored, upholstered chairs with three kids under three vanished when I saw how easy it would be to wipe that top down.

I see the progression of a couple, of a life and a marriage in these three tables in eight short (long) years. I can trace our path from baby newlyweds to very young family to house in the suburbs. Sometimes this life is everything I’ve hoped it would be and other times I’m dodging my three-year old brandishing legit weapons at the dinner table. Sometimes we have to make use of Google as a timer, remind them to put their dishes away, clear away piles of markers and paper and masterpieces before we can sit down to a meal.

Still, we make a point of sitting down here most nights as a family.

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“Mommy I like this dinner!” Nolan says as he runs down the steps the very next night, seeing the plates of food on the table.

“Me, too!” Caden and Brooklyn chorus, joining us. Tyson follows them down the stairs and gives me a quick kiss before sitting down next to me.

Tonight we pray and pull out the set of dinner table questions at the kids’ request. Everyone eats their panko-crusted chicken and broccoli and asks for seconds, thirds.

Caden pulls a card from the stack in the middle of the table and I read it to him. “What is your favorite place to eat?”

“Hmmm,” he thinks, and I wait for it, the answer of McDonald’s or Chick-fil-a or the restaurant we go to with the trolly inside that serves their favorite spaghetti and meatballs.

Then: “Here! At home. I like the food you make, mommy.”

I don’t know if they’ll remember the nights we yelled, the nights they “didn’t like” any of the food, the nights I let four-letter words pass my lips, when they bargain and whine and shout and cry over each other. I don’t know if they’ll remember eating naan with rice and curry, homemade pizza, or Happy Meals around this table.

But I’ll remember what happened here just like I remember the meals and the life we built around its two predecessors. The good, the bad, and the in-between. I sure hope they remember nights like this. I hope this table makes up a piece of their story, too.

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "Remember This."


We walked around our college campus a couple weeks ago, kids and all. As expected, it brought back a lot of memories. But besides reminiscing about all of the late nights in the design building and the walks across campus and the Campaniling, all I could do was look around at the students as they passed and exclaim, “They don’t know ANYTHING! They don’t know ANYTHING about ANYTHING! WE didn’t know ANYTHING!”

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Apologies college students. I know that’s not exactly true. But seven years later and it sort of feels like it.


The kids were packed off this weekend, to give us peace and quiet and time to celebrate. We bumped into a groom (of course we did) as we walked around the Cathedral downtown, just a half-hour ahead of his own wedding. He was in the back as we were about to leave, all suited up, boutonniere in place, on a picture-perfect beautiful fall day just like our own. Tyson figured out who he was first, before I did. “You’re the groom?” I blurted out, “Congratulations!!!” (I know that three exclamation points are not editorially correct here, but had you been there, you would have heard those three exclamation points.) “We’ll be celebrating seven years in two days. Before you know it, it will be seven years later and you’ll have a mortgage and three kids!”

Yeesh. Fortunately, I didn’t scare the poor guy. He flashed a grin and said, “Great! That’s what I’m hoping for!” So he’ll be all right. Even though he looked about twelve.

I had the grace to not blurt out everything I wanted to say. Mostly I was thinking about how that handsome groom ALSO DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING. Neither did his bride. Not a thing. They had absolutely no freaking idea, as they were minutes away from walking down the aisle, what on Earth they were getting themselves into.

Of course, it’s not their fault. We didn’t, either.

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Seven years in and we’re actually not sick of each other. No itch here. We still enjoy each other’s company, can have conversations that last for hours (or would if we didn't look at the clock and do the math to calculate how much sleep we have a chance of getting in before the kids wake up), and look forward to ditching the kids with Nana and Papa to grab 30+ uninterrupted hours of meals, sleep, and discussion to celebrate ourselves.

Seven years seems like both an impossibility and an eternity. In some ways that number doesn’t even seem possible - are we actually even old enough to have been married that long? Then again, so much has happened since October 2nd, 2010 that I must be doing the math wrong. Surely that many life events can't possibly have been packed into such a short amount of time.

We’ve spent the past seven years growing up together. Thinking of us as actual "grown-ups" still seems weird, though I suppose we've earned the title given all the kids and the minivan and the 30+ years we each possess and the fact that we spent a good chunk of our child-free time this weekend cleaning out the garage and enjoying it. (I’m still cool, I swear.) We spent the entirety of our 20s together, most of it married, as we went from living with roommates in college apartments to living in just-slightly nicer apartments together and then into a real, actual, bona fide house.

Speaking of moving up in the world: remember our first dining set? It was a folding table and chairs. We graduated to a "some assembly required" model of dubious construction from Target, and one of the most thrilling days of my life was last summer, when a truck from a real, live, actual furniture store delivered our current dining table to our house - chairs, bench, and all - fully put together, carried by other people that we could actually afford to pay to place it exactly where I wanted it set up, ready to go. Magic!  

We've learned how to cook (me), how to precisely load the dishwasher (you), and how to raise babies (both still learning).


Not only are we celebrating seven years of marriage today, but this May marked a decade since we met and (one hot second later) started dating. Ten years together. How on Earth? 

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(Oh, and I *could* have bought you a card but instead I just put together the 700+ words above AND saved us $4.99 and it's definitely not like I totally forgot or anything. Happy Anniversary!)