There are a few challenges to moving into a house that you did not pick out. We moved in so my dad would not have to move out. We mostly fit, but there are a lot of parts about the house itself that just don't work out very well. And some of them are challenging enough that if I was looking to buy or rent a house, this would not be the one I would pick.
One of them is the dining room. There isn't one.
This house does have a nice, big kitchen. In fact, I remember hearing my mother say that it was one of the biggest reasons they bought this house. The kitchen had a u-shaped work area with a large peninsula. The other end of the room boasted enough space for a family table. A dozen years ago, my folks remodeled the kitchen and took out the peninsula. In its place they installed a large island and put counter-height chairs around it. It is a lovely size for cooking and kneading dough and spreading supplies all around. And it seats four diners very comfortably. But there isn't room at the other end for a table any more.
When we moved in, I had to leave my beautiful big table (which could happily seat 12!) at the old house. I was so sad to see it go. We moved in our smaller table, but even it is a little too big for this space. We push the long side of the table against the wall and still have to squish between the table chairs and the counter chairs. Since no one can sit on the wall side of the table, half of the family has to sit at the counter.
Half of us are here, and half of us are there. Folks at the table have to do a little shimmy dance to get out of their chairs without upsetting anyone else and walk over to the counter to get more food. Both sides have their backs turned to the others, so there is no conversation. We all pause for the prayer, but after that it is every man for himself. The kids help themselves to food, eat, and then leave - often without more than a half dozen words. There is no family togetherness, no discussion of upcoming events or how-was-your-day. Even at lunchtime, when I have fewer people around, the counter chairs are full and I have to eat standing. It's not working for me.
I decided to try something different. I pushed the table into the adjoining family room and shoved all the couches over to make room.
Now I can actually put the food on the table, and everyone has to sit together. The change has been noticeable. We talk and laugh and connect. I feel like I have my family back!
Unfortunately, it's still a bit too tight. We can't get into the laundry room or to the back door when the table is out. We have to push it in close to the couch and pull it out for every meal. Even when we do pull it out, the people in the chairs have to be very careful and still, as the backs of the chairs are butted up against the wall. And you do have to do a little skipping dance to get past the table and get out the back door. Oh, and the little ones, who are the only ones skinny enough to fit on the bench, are leaning up against (and wiping their dirty hands and faces) against the back of the couch. Not good.
The family room is a trifle squishy now. I could take out some of the furniture, but then there wouldn't be enough places to put all of our heinies. We have a lot of heinies in this house, and I need a place for us all to sit. Back to that family togetherness thing I want.
On the positive side, I do like the extra room I have at this end of the kitchen. I moved the exercise machine in here until we can figure out what to do with it, since it is clearly not getting used. I think I can smell its dust from here. I just wish I could take a little bit of the room from the kitchen and stick it onto the little bit of room we have in the family room and make enough room for us all to eat.
Or I could just get content with never having my family eat together.
Nope. Not gonna happen. We shall come up with something. Maybe?