By Guest Contributor Julie Hoag
My boys are getting older and they are becoming more able to prepare their own foods. However, they still ask me to get them food. As a mom I have prepared food for them for almost thirteen years. I have prepared meals, arranged food on their plates, and placed it in front of them hundreds of times. Doing so has been part of my duty as a mom and part of my daily joy as I see their eyes light up with their favorite foods. I enjoy giving them motherly love by serving them, but I have to wonder am I hindering independence by serving them.
They ask me to prepare foods they could do on their own like preparing a bagel or a sandwich. On occasion they do it themselves and take pride in doing so. But they ask me the vast majority of the time. Sometimes I’m super busy and I wish they’d do it on their own, and other times I enjoy being mom and making it for them. I get to feed them in my house every day right now and someday that will end. I love the excited cheers when they find out I’m making a favorite food. This warms my heart each time.
Serving My Boys
However, as a mom I want to foster independence as well. I want them to feel capable enough to prepare easy foods. My older two are learning to prepare some foods using appliances. But they still ask me to make them even simple foods; I do so because they smile when I give it to them, and let’s face it, our kids’ smiles never get old. When they ask me for something I just automatically help because I am mom.
Being served my favorite foods like homemade lasagna or cinnamon rolls by my mom or my grandma are some of my favorite memories as a child, so I don’t want my boys to lose out on that piece of love. I don’t want them to lose that food equals love association. I also don’t want them to feel like a burden or miss out on my love by denying them my servitude.
As a young girl I loved playing with my play kitchen, baking with my easy bake oven, and helping my mom cook and bake in her real kitchen. I hear other mothers talk about their girls, and even a few boys, loving to cook or bake alongside them. I know nothing about that because my boys aren’t interested in cooking or baking except for an occasional rare foray into something yummy they really want like Christmas cookies. And it’s a very short stint. When they were toddlers and preschoolers they loved their turn to dump in a cup of sugar and then they ran off to play. Now they don’t care to dump ingredients in; they just like to eat the final product.
I want them to be capable of making a grilled cheese or a smoothie or maybe even box macaroni and cheese. I would love to teach them to make spaghetti, but the interest isn’t there. My oldest has taken a class in middle school equivalent to the Home Ec. of my time though it has a new name now; so he has had some exposure to cooking, but the class didn’t spark any interest. If it is a comfort to him to have me make his foods, something he sees as an act of love, I don’t want to take it away. I want him to feel loved and taken care of.
However, on the other side of this I don’t want my boys to believe they should be waited on all the time. I don’t want them to think their wife should do all the cooking. They should be able to cook at least easy meals. I do most of the cooking in our family because I like to cook. My husband serves as a good role model by seasoning meat and grilling it. I want my three boys to know men cook too even if they show no interest.
This is an ongoing struggle within me as a mom of all boys because I want to teach independence, yet I love to serve them.
I guess the answer is I must find a balance between serving them and fostering independence by teaching them how to prepare simple foods. I will always make them food because it is linked with showing love, maybe in the future I will set up time for lessons. Even if I still end up making most of their foods, at least they can learn the basics and grow towards being more independent. Who knows, my boys and I might even find a new way to bond in cooking together. With any luck, they might even enjoy it. I know I will.
A mother of three boys, a wife, and a mama also to furry babies: two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. Julie writes on her blog about antics and life with all males in the house, motherhood, kids, youth sports and healthcare, family, faith, hybrid vegetarian/meat recipes, and parenting. Her essays/posts can be found on Huffington Post, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, The Mighty, Parent.co, The Good Mother Project, her own blog juliehoagwriter, and soon appearing on Manifest Station. Julie has survived working as SAHM, a pediatric nurse, a scientist, and a veterinary assistant. She loves to spend time with her family in their backyard pool and watching her boys’ sports games. Red wine, chocolate, and aged cheeses are her favorites.