They never stay for dinner; you learn that the hard way. There’s always a plan to leave. Doesn’t matter how many hours you slaved in the kitchen, making the perfect meal. Even if you do get to set it on the table, all they’ll do is nibble at it. And then they’ll find their way out the door. That’s just the way it is.
Takes a few times to learn this, but sometimes all it takes is one time. Just one time to look at the empty chair across you and the banquet you had set, watching it grow colder by the minute, knowing all that effort and food was all for nought. Sometimes, once is enough.
You learn to love them while they’re there; for the moment. You laugh and make memories but you note when they start to glance at their watch, when they’re gaze starts to linger at the door, when their foot taps incessantly… you learn to know when its time to let them go.
You learn not to cook for an army and instead, give a simple spread of tea ad biscuits. Sometimes they’re hungry so a crumpet or two would suffice. Put your jam and honey on the table; no one can resist those. It’ll give them enough energy to leave.
You learn not to close the door when they enter, rather, leaving if open. You learn to give, not to expect. You learn that after they leave, and you know they will leave, how to set a table for one.