"My hungry child was a blessing" by Lisa Henley Jones (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2017 Lisa Henley Jones. Created by the author in Canva.

As a wife and mother, preparing meals should be a way to nurture and show affection for my family, but it is a stressful and difficult daily task that I don’t enjoy. I’ve shared how Pinterest has helped me tremendously in my meal preparation and lately dinner has gone much smoother, or so I thought. My youngest cried to me the other night that she is frequently hungry at night, even after dinner. She said she isn’t eating enough and can’t sleep because she’s hungry. What a horrible thing to hear as a mother. I looked at her and wondered what was going on. There isn’t a shortage of food in our house or a lack of food on the table at dinnertime. Why isn’t she eating enough? My mind went into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities. She’s almost 11 and hitting a growth spurt; she is an athlete and burns lots of calories during the day, and well, she’s never been a great eater.

When I asked her why she’s hungry, her answer was a bit surprising. Birdie told me that most of the time she doesn’t like what we’re having for dinner, so doesn’t eat much. What? She’d rather be hungry than eat our dinners? As a mom that’s a gut punch. Especially as a mom who already hates fixing dinner and stresses about it. Ugh.

I managed to put my insecurities aside and give her a couple of options. Option 1: she could eat something on her own after dinner if she is still hungry. For instance, Greek yogurt, fruit, vegetables, cheese, hard boiled eggs are things we always have on hand. Option 2: she could learn to eat things she doesn’t like. It really is a life skill because you never know when you’ll be somewhere and have a lack of choices for a meal. Option 3: she could help Dad and me plan and prep our meals. This might help ensure we fix something she likes to eat.

Big surprise, she really didn’t like option 2.

What was a surprise was how much she liked option 3. The next morning, I found her making a list of her favorite meals so I would know what she really likes. Meatloaf? Really? She selected one for dinner that night and helped me put together the grocery list so I could stop after work.

When it was time, she jumped right in and got her hands dirty dredging and breading the chicken pieces. What was her top meal choice, you ask? Goldfish crusted chicken with macaroni and cheese, of course. (I threw in some broccoli on the side for extra measure.) We were having such a good time in the kitchen, her siblings busted in wanting to be part of it. Next thing I know, we were all working together on dinner and dancing around the kitchen to my favorite playlist on Spotify. It was one of those moments you want to hold on to and savor forever.

Dear Lord, Bless us as we gather as family around the table. Thank you for your love and this food. Bless the loving hands that prepared our meal. Bring us closer as family as we enjoy this time with one another and You. Amen.

After all the plates were cleaned and no leftovers placed in the fridge I sat and gave thanks for what just happened. God opened my eyes to a couple of things. My youngest sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of things. She’s my baby and I’m guilty of sometimes treating her that way rather than involving her as I would her teenage siblings. She mentioned to me the next morning that she rarely gets asked to help in the kitchen preparing the food and she enjoyed it.

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For me, preparing this meal felt like it should, like a way to nurture and love my family. That feeling and realization was such a blessing and gift.

Copyright 2017 Lisa Henley Jones