Our dinners out with the kids start so optimistically; walking out together with an unopened bottle of $9 wine in hand, basking in the satisfaction of having gotten three kids dressed and out the door. But, sometimes these evenings end in frustration, and an unfinished bottle of wine.

For a while my husband and I feel like adults, and maybe we even start to talk about adult things on the way out to the car. “Did you see what Donald Trump tweeted today?”“I heard the most interesting thing on NPR!” We affirm that we are rational people, and others may be misguided, or out of control.

But, things can deteriorate quickly. Maybe the kids won’t just sit and buckle their seat belts. Then there’s the intrusion of personal space, whining, and at worst a few punches are thrown, and someone is left crying. (Maybe even one of the kids!?)

A warning is given as we exit the mini-van in the restaurant parking lot. “If you guys don’t get your act together…” (um, what?) What leverage do we have? “You’ll sit out here… in the car!” Seriously?

Anyway, if all goes well, we’ll throw out a few more empty threats, distribute food, tell stories, laugh, and walk our youngest daughter to the bathroom just as our meals arrive. (Every time!) It’s a uniquely boisterous bouquet of frustration and exultation. 

Now it’s getting late, so we signal for the check and I inspect the perimeter of the table for forgotten articles. Along with a glove and two markers, there’s a quarter of a bottle of wine left. Hmmm…

We usually have the misguided idea that maybe we’ll split this last glass of wine when we get home, but that doesn’t happen. 

Instead, we’ll probably end up exhausted, laying prostrate in front of a Netflix show with chamomile tea for an hour, and then call it a day. Maybe I’ll even be a little angry with myself for being so hard on the kids as I pour out the leftover wine into the sink with a sigh. 

Maybe Having Kids is kind of like sharing a bottle of wine? 

Yes, I AM going to turn this whole thing into a metaphor. 

So, your high expectations for dinner with the kids didn’t work out exactly as planned? Think of your time with them like sharing a bottle of wine. It’s a communal experience; special and complex, but imperfect. It’s a a spectrum of sweet and savory, with bitter notes and lively acidity that should leave you slightly intoxicated.

Know that the moment you open a bottle of wine, oxidation goes to work, simultaneously “opening up,” and “breaking down” its components. Now the wine has become more “present,” and nature has turned her hourglass over and placed it on your table.

So, pour it out mindfully, and raise your glasses for a toast. Just don’t leave a drop in the bottle, because wine has to be enjoyed in the moment, and it won’t keep. 

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