Dining with Mostaccioli: a messy, beautiful rebellion

His text said he’d be late, again.

I would have to cope—for a few more hours—as the only parent at home. And that stirred up a few angry thoughts. And those angry thoughts led to craving dessert. Not just any dessert. A dessert I had at The District, a restaurant two miles from our house with its wine list and homemade pasta and fresh basil growing on the patio in the summer. I told my daughters to quit the TV and Barbies and Legos. We were going to have a girls’ night.

“Is this place fancy?” Melisandra asked as I parked the van. I had done nothing to clean up my kids. Melisandra had a rip in her jeans, Corrigan’s hair had a rooster tail, and Reece didn’t even have socks on. We were a messy crew. And I didn’t care.

“This is a fancy or casual kind of place. You’re fine.”

The four of us sat in a booth. We were one of the first parties for supper, so the restaurant was quiet and the waitstaff still in good spirits. They took good care of us.

I ordered chicken and fries, lemonade, and root beer off the kid’s menu. For me, I ordered a Fat Tire and Mostaccioli, a dish of pasta, Italian sausage, mushrooms in marinara smothered with mozzarella and baked. I asked our waitress about the dessert, the one I had thought about since my visit a year ago, the one with layers of yellow cake, frosting, and pistachios. All homemade wonderfulness.

“That was popular,” our waitress said. “But we don’t make that one anymore.” She showed me the list of alternatives, which I’m sure were all good, yet I was disappointed and needed a moment to reconfigure my plan.

Even though my daughters are good with their table manners, The District isn’t the best place to bring kids. This restaurant is suited for hours (note plural) of dining. Not the fifteen minutes kids use to sit at the table, eat, and wiggle away.

I drank my beer at a fast rate while they colored on their menus. I gobbled my spinach salad while my girls distracted themselves with smothering their bread with garlic butter. They talked a bit about their friends and school.

“Cheers!” I said. “Here’s to girls’ night.” They used their cups to clink a toast with me. I enjoyed my time with them, away from the house and tedium of our normal routine.

I hope nights like these will foster a love of good food and good places to eat. When my daughters were babies I would sing them a silly lullaby. Do you know I love you? Do you know? Do you know that I love you, everywhere you go. When you’re older and we keep in touch, I hope we’ll always meet for lunch. I’d hold them close and imagine them as college students. All four of us would meet in the lobby of a favorite restaurant. There would be group hugs and excitement. Oh, it’s so good to see you. I missed you. We would order lots of food and talk and talk and talk.

They are a little young now, of course, to appreciate fine dining and the fine art of dining together. Our girls’ night was a fast hour of eating. I did not enjoy the casual pace three courses—salad, entrée, dessert–deserve. I ate half my entrée quickly. I took the other half home in a box. I ordered my substitute dessert, tiramisu, to go, so I could taste it one forkful at a time after the girls went to bed.

My $15 coupon helped, but this messy, beautiful I’m-not-cooking-and-screw-you-for-being-late rebellion still cost $50. A bit of a splurge to go get dessert.

Fine dine glassesThat said, I will call it an investment in my future relationships with my daughters. One day, we’ll meet, eat delicious entrees, and then we’ll order four forks and one big, fat dessert to share.

Inspired by the letter M as part of the A-to-Z Challenge for the month of April.

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This is post is also found on the Messy, Beautiful Warrior grid, a Momastery project featuring essays on our messy, beautiful lives.


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