Yesterday evening felt like a perfect and enjoyable family evening. It doesn’t happen all that often, or maybe it does and it’s all about my perceptions. We didn’t do anything particularly interesting. Picked the boys up after school, pottered around in town, shared a milkshake, picked up some stuff I needed and had a meal together.

So, what made it so pleasurable? Was it the children’s behaviour? I don’t know, I don’t think they actually acted hugely differently. But maybe they’re starting to understand what’s expected of them a bit better. And maybe we’re starting to learn to manage our own expectations and frustrations.

Certainly the sharing style meal we ordered helped make it seem enjoyable. I felt less isolated to my own dish. Does that sound like a ridiculous thing to say?! You know, when the mains arrive in a restaurant and everyone focuses on their own plate, and regardless of how happy or disappointed we are with it, that is our lane and we pretty much have to stay in it. There can be some “tastes” passed around, but if it’s a really nice dish, then there often isn’t enough to share, and if it’s a part that you don’t enjoy, you mightn’t think to share it, even though someone else might like it.

I also feel *way* less driven to “finish what’s on the plate” when we’re doing sharing-style plates. And it feels less wasteful with the kids. Rather than spending €8 each on them getting a “kids meal” that I know they’re not going to eat half of, we were able to order two sides that I knew they would eat, and then encourage them to try some of what we were having. They only tried a few bites, but those weren’t laden with the frustration and expectation that they finish something (often a not particularly healthy something) that we’ve bought especially for them.

I wonder if it’s something we can try to do in the future in restaurants that don’t explicitly have a sharing plate. Just ask for what we’ve ordered to come out as it’s ready and give us some side plates for trying different things.

It also helped me to plan where we were going to eat and what to order in advance. Then I wasn’t stressing about it during the whole time we were wandering about town. And I wasn’t trying to parse the menu for what we might all eat while tired and trying to wrangle tired children.

So, the meal we had definitely contributed to the mood of the evening. But also maybe a more relaxed attitude from me in terms of not expecting a picture perfect family time. Then it actually got delivered!

It’s raining outside this morning. That quiet but dense Summer rain that seems to have a heavier gravity attached to it than normal rain. I quite like it, but it can tend to be particularly drenching, so it will be an indoor day today for us all. I don’t mind; I want to do some house clean-up… and then there’s an implicit promise in me that I might spend some time drawing today.

I nearly did some last night, but I was tired and (more importantly) I didn’t want to. This is the “cost of re-entry” that I was talking about yesterday. I will need to push a little hard to break through the ice. I’m not big on “ignoring” myself anymore, but I think that the voice that’s saying “I don’t want to” is not the adult voice inside me. It’s a voice of fear, and I don’t even really know what it’s afraid of.

Maybe I’ll set two intentions for today (outside of commitments – I mean these are intentions for me, not about cleaning house or cooking dinner or whatever): I will take some check-in meditation time. It’s been a long time and I don’t feel super aware of what’s going on with me emotionally. I’m a bit head-trapped at the moment. And I will draw something. It doesn’t need to be the two comics I’d already sketched out to draw, it can be a flower or a raindrop or an abstract squiggle. But I will give myself some funtime with paper and drawing implements in some way or other today.

Okay, so I’m going to help myself out by putting times on those two things. It’s going to have to be while the boys are still awake because I’m going out to dinner and movie with a friend this evening.

(1) Meditation: during their lunchtime (generally can get 15 minutes peace around then).

(2) Drawing: After lunch, when they are either doing some drawing themselves, or we take them to soft-play for a run around.

Plan has been planned! Only the future will let us know how well executed it will be.

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