When I was growing up my mom would get up early every morning to make my dad his breakfast and his lunch for the day. She would also make our lunches and dinner for everyone. She took on the roll of being the feeder of us all. This is how I learned it was my “job” to feed my family. It was what good moms and wives did to ensure the health of their family. So this is how I started out with my own family. But overtime I needed to step back and take a look at a few things to make sure I was feeding the people in front of me and not the stories running behind the scenes.
I did not get up to make my husband breakfast because I was feeding babies all night long and if they were sleeping I was sleeping. Plus this was not an expectation he had of me, it was an arbitrary rule I had placed upon myself.
When my husband worked outside of the home, I did make his lunch for him on a pretty regular basis. Then I would fight with him when he didn’t eat it. “What do you mean you went out for lunch? I took time out of my day to make this for you and you didn’t even eat it.” We had that fight many many times before I caught up and realized he didn’t expect me to make his lunch. He was fully capable of feeding himself. So I stopped making his lunch in the name of peace and a healthy marriage.
My husband is great at many things. Cooking is not one of them. He has tried a number of times to prepare meals for the family. The tirade of frustration,cursing and declaration that dinner was inedible, stopped us from trying to strike the sort of balance where we take turns with that job. Because the truth is, most of the time, I love to cook for my family. I didn’t always know this about myself because I had been stuck under a rock of obligation for while.
I was at a conference once and witnessed this exchange between the presenter and an attendee. A mom in the audience was adamant that she had things she had to do that meant her child had to be otherwise entertained so she the mom could be left to do what had to be done. “I have to make dinner,” she said. The speaker turned to her and said “No you don’t. Order a pizza or put a frozen one in the oven.” That was a cold hard truth that lead me to uncover my own feelings of obligation and shine a new light on my role as feeder of the family, to see if it was true that I had to or if there was room for a shift to find a place of want to.
It is super easy for me as a mom to get all caught up in “have tos” and the even nastier “should”. When I can take a wider look at things I can see, that in fact, it is a story I am telling myself and not a truth. I find my choice in being able to rewrite the story from “I have to make dinner” to “I look forward to making dinner,” or “there are other ways to feed my family tonight.”
It is with this re-writing and a little bit of out of the box thinking that I have a beautiful opportunity to help feed my youngest son. We are sleeping at quite different times right now which can be challenging. He has, from as young as I can remember, asked for what he calls “surprise snacks.” Which means a collection of foods he likes showing up on a plate without him knowing what it will be. This is pretty hard to pull off when you are the only guy awake. When you are the one feeding yourself. He was sharing with me how he misses his surprise snacks when he is awake alone.
He also remembers loving lunchables back when he was still eating gluten. There are not a lot of gluten free nut free pre-made lunch kits out in the world that meet his specific needs. With these two nuggets of information and his pleas for food that was not just chips for him to grab and eat, I found the perfect containers, added a little creativity and filled the fridge with these grab and go individual surprise snacks. I tell you the joy the boy has over all of this pays me for every last second I spent making them with a little extra for the love bank. I mean look at these beauties.
I share these stories as a reminder, that food is meant to nourish. It is what we all need to sustain life. I as the self assigned feeder of the family, have a lot of choice around how I do that. I can drop the parts that don’t resonate with me. I can re-write the stories I have been telling for years. I can feed my family fast food meals as regularly as needed to keep the peace. I can think outside of the box to find unique solutions to the feeding of all the belies and hearts in the family, mine included.
When I create food from a place of choice and serve it with that same attitude, it tastes a lot better than the bitter taste of obligation with a side of resentment. Because for me, the important ingredients in nourishing my family are connection, joy, choice and buckets full of unconditional love. All of that is at my finger tips when I am rooted in my own truth, telling stories I have written and mothering from a place of intention.