Dinner time. The most God-awful couple hours of the day at our house. It’s pure hell from the instant we walk in the door. The kids turn into little demons, and I lose complete control of my household, my children, and my patience.

This joyous time begins about 5:00 p.m. every single day. After a long commute home in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I pick up all the kids from childcare and head for home. On a typical drive home, I listen to them cry, fight, and hit each other because they’re hungry, tired, hot, cold, gassy, angry, sad, bleeding, and whatever. As pleasant as all that sounds, the real fun begins when we arrive home.

As soon as the car enters the garage, they try to jump out before it even stops moving. It’s a race to see who can be the first one to the computer, or to the cat. The oldest sits in the third row and usually leaps over the middle row seat kicking one of his sisters in the head on the way out. My middle child is NOT good under pressure so instead of trying to beat him like she wants, she just freezes and convulses in her seat making this atrocious banshee-like scream-cry. No joke. It’ll make your ears bleed. So immediately, I’m refereeing them while chasing the youngest as she bolts down the driveway saying “Get me!”

Once I wrangle them up and actually get into the house, the fights start again – about who is going to let the dog out of the kennel. This, apparently, is the most unspeakable request I could ever make. I must, as they claim, REALLY hate my kids for ever asking them to do this. Look, kids: this task takes two seconds. I’m not asking you to cut off your own arm. Just let the freaking dog out of the freaking kennel. 

Within seconds, the ravenous vultures start consuming anything and everything in their line of sight. Their hunger-filled insanity has completely taken over their little bodies, and they devour goldfish, salami, candy, pickles, olives, cheese, frozen cheese, and dog food. Yes, two of my kids love dog food. They hide in the pantry and eat handfuls of it at every opportunity. At least it has protein, right?

My kids completely fill up on junk food before I’ve even taken my shoes off. I know all the judgy people out there will just say, “Don’t let them!” But it’s just not that easy. 

Then – and this is the really hard part – I have to actually cook something. I never know what to make and who’ll eat it and who won’t. There are so many rules, and I just can’t possibly keep them all straight. Honestly, I don’t know why I even stress about it, it doesn’t really matter anyway because everyone ends up eating something different.

Most nights, we have some sort of activity at 6p.m. so I only have an hour to come up with something, make it, and eat it. Hotdogs or chicken nuggets it is! This is all happening while fending off the three beasts swiping food off the counter when I’m not looking and trying to navigate about the kitchen with a crying child hanging on my leg.

And the dog. The freaking dog is always under my feet. So there I am – trying to get everything timed right, and everyone served on the correct color plate – sweating and shaking because my blood sugar has plummeted and I’m starving myself.

Inevitably, just as things are coming to a head and dinner is about to be done, someone poops and needs to be changed. Every single time. Never fails. Nothing like the aroma of a warm, fresh load mixed with spaghetti or frozen pizza. 

Ready. Set. Go. Here comes the complaining. Everything I have just done is completely wrong. IDIOT. The color of the plates, cups, why the oldest gets a bigger piece of bread, why the middle didn’t get the pink cup (not the little pink one, but the big pink one), it’s too hot, I don’t like it, why does it look different, I want a peanut butter and jelly – it’s all wrong.

That’s when I resort to bribery. Eat four bites and you can have candy. Those hostage negotiators usually talk me down and end up eating two bites for candy. Or I just start to cry. Sometimes that happens too. Award-winning mom for sure. 

I haven’t sat down to eat an entire meal in about 8 years. I have to jump up every 3 seconds to get something for someone. A different fork. Another napkin. More milk. A towel for the spilled milk. More salt. Get the cat off the counter. It’s always something.

Sometimes the youngest will run out the door and I’ll have to chase her down and carry her back – kicking, screaming, and pinching me. That’s always a good time. There’s so much yelling and crying during this short window of time I’m convinced that the neighbors will call the police someday.

I have to inhale my food so fast that I can’t even taste it, which is probably ok since we’ve already established that I’m not the world’s best cook. I look forward to the day I don’t have to scarf down food that’s been manhandled and slobbered on by one of the kids.

In a nutshell, dinnertime is pure hell. I don’t even like cooking for myself, let alone everyone else. But I do it because I’m the mom, and apparently kids need to eat every day.