Love and lunches

The very first opportunity I had to live out my role as mom came before my first child was born. It was the simple understanding that everything I took in to my body was being funneled into the formation of my baby. 

Keeping track of what I ate was the one thing I could do externally that gave me the opportunity to mother the changes that were occurring internally. 

I carefully jotted notes throughout my pregnant days, making sure I was getting my protein and dairy. 

After the birth, most of the hospital time was focused on getting the baby to nurse and allowing me to feel comfortable with it. For many months after, we were entwined together in the cycle of resting and feeding. Our schedule became less restrictive and interdependent as my baby moved through the varying stages of childhood. 

I realized that I viewed food as a nurturing connection. It was the one way I was “with” them when they were away from me all day.

 

A continued connection

Today those nursing days are long gone. And I’m no longer airplaning mustard-colored veggies on a rubber spoon into Baby’s mouth. I’m now a mother of two. And they’re big kids, who go off on their own to their respective junior and high schools. 

And, yet, I’m just as concerned they’re getting what they need to make it through their very full days.

Food is one of those perfunctory parts of parenting. They get older; they eat on their own. But we parents are still involved: We fill the cupboards and cook their dinners, and we continue to have a lot of control over what they consume.

I didn’t realize how much of their eating I liked controlling, however, until I went back to work full time. 

 

Mom’s needs came into play

As a high school teacher, I needed to be out the door really early. Of course, my desire was for my children to feel like I was still at home. But I found I couldn’t keep up with my own demands. 

My husband suggested I let the kids make their own lunches to bring a little ease into my morning routine. It sounds silly to me now, but it actually made me mad. 

“This is what I do,” I thought, “I make their lunch, carefully packing all of the right things before I send them away for the day.” It surprised me how much this little thing bothered me. I realized that I viewed food as a nurturing connection. It was the one way I was “with” them when they were away from me all day.

But I was tired and my plate was full, so I gave in. 

 

Beyond eating: Evolving 

When I finally let go, something remarkable happened: Not only did they start making their own lunches, but they also did a really good job! 

Their full lunchboxes contained a fruit/veg, a dairy, a protein and something crunchy. They demonstrated to me that they were mindful about what they took into their bodies. It also gave them the opportunity to learn even better time management in the mornings. 

This skill soon transferred over to preparing other foods. The first cooking lesson I taught them was how to fry an egg. 

It wasn’t long before both my kids got to be quite proficient (even mastering the art of the flip), and I was being offered fried eggs for breakfast every morning.  

They’re in a new stage again and I’m back, this time working from home. They get up in the morning, make their own breakfast, get dressed and pack their own lunches. 

My son has evolved from making single fried eggs for his mom to three-egg scrambles with chopped onions and two varieties of bell peppers as his “pre-dinner” when he gets home from high school. 

As for me, I’m back to my preferred breakfast of toast and coffee while I admire how they’re growing up. And letting go doesn’t feel so bad from this side of it, perhaps because my heart is soaring with pride that they’re doing it so darn well.