How did two suddenly become 10? My husband and I decided to go to Applebee's for dinner the other night and invited the kids along. When we arrived at the restaurant, I heard myself asking for a table for 10.
Ten? How did that happen? Seemingly overnight, our family has grown exponentially. It all began when I married my husband. We were living happily in a one-bedroom apartment, enjoying the occasional dinner out, when we decided to have kids. At the same time, we wanted to keep our sanity, so we settled on two — a boy and a girl.
By the time we had the second child, we knew we needed a bigger place to live, so we bought a house in Danville and settled in to raise our kids. Back then, when we went out to dinner we still managed to get a table for the four of us, as long as we were on the early side and the restaurant was family friendly.
When our children grew up and got married, we welcomed two more into the clan, bringing the number to six. If we went out to dinner together, we still managed to sit together at the same table, but usually had a longer wait while the restaurant easily seated parties of two and four.
But then the kids started having kids — two each, just like us — and in the blink of an eye, we became a family of 10.
Now we can't fit everyone around the family table without elbowing one another as we eat. I had to add two leaves and buy extra folding chairs
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just to accommodate all of us. As for dining out as a family, if we want to sit together, we can only go to places with lots of big tables, such as Chuck E. Cheese or Three Brothers from China. Unfortunately, Applebee's has only one large table, and it's always occupied.
We've had to make other adjustments for our now extended family. Instead of buying an Earth-friendly Baby Boomer-mobile for peaceful getaways to the Wine Country or Lake Tahoe, we had to get a ginormous SUV — plus car seats — to transport the multiplying grandkids on trips to Fairyland or the Exploratorium. And when we gather with our other relatives at the holidays, the numbers jump to more than 50, and there's no place to sit.
People often say how lucky we are to have our kids and grandkids nearby — and we are. We got to be at the hospital when our grown children had their babies. We get to watch our kids take on their roles as parents. And we'll be able to enjoy the entertaining antics of our four grandchildren for years.
But I guess we won't be dining out with the whole family much anymore. We'll have to be content with celebrating births, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and achievements at the family table, elbowing one another as we try to eat pot roast on Sundays. Before we know it, the grandkids will be too busy to join us for dinner, what with their soccer games, sleepovers and their own social lives.
Until then, we'll keep gathering at the family table. Even if we have to knock out a wall and build a bigger dining room...