Julia Child, world-famous cook and author, talked about food, cooking, and eating A LOT! She said, “The Dinner hour is a sacred, happy time when everyone should be together and relaxed.”
An article from Focus on the Family States: “The importance of food to the health of our physical bodies is obvious. but the context in which we take this nourishment is equally crucial to our overall well-being. We are not animals that graze in a field or gather at a trough. We do not inhale our food and then wander away. We are supposed to get fed at the table in more ways than one.
Meals are a time for socializing, conversation, sharing, and celebration. Family meals can be powerful events in the lives of both children and adults. They can and should be an occasion for sharing the day’s events, decompressing, commiserating, and encouraging one another. They’re a time to laugh, learn how to speak and listen politely, instill values, establish one’s identity as a member of the family, welcome guests, and acknowledge God’s provision on a day-to-day basis.”
My husband and I are seeing that we now have just a handful of years left with our teenagers feel like we are racing against the clock to share what is most important to us. We love to share family stories, memories, and explain our inside jokes. We love to read aloud to our kids or have them read to us. My husband is especially good at it and he shares his favorite classic and not-so-classic novels, but the nourishment of their souls, and the value of their discussions is immense. We keep a notebook for each child and write down funny or insightful things they’ve said and once in a while at dinner the kids will get a out a notebook and just read all the quotes from one sibling. Those moments and others like them become priceless. As the time ticks away, we are realizing how the precious times when all of us pause to eat, are also times we should pause to strengthen, fortify, or nourish in other ways as well.
I am truly inspired by good and wholesome food. I love to read cookbooks and look at pictures of delicious, long-cooked soups or stews filled with vegetables and meat. My kids have come to expect it. When I say I am making soup, a couple of them will grab a peeler and say “how many carrots do you need?” I work hard to make sure that most of the food my kids eat is nutritious, and that has been a hard-fought, but gradual change from the days we ate from the drive-thru lane or a box. Yes, I have learned nutrition is wonderful and important but it’s not nourishment, at least not entirely. Nourishment seems a more complete word and includes the love and care that goes along with trying to help someone grow and become strong inside and out.
Maria Montessori said “We give the child nourishing food so that his little body may grow. And in just the same way we must provide him with suitable nourishment for his mental and moral growth.”
That is what getting our kids and ourselves into the kitchen to really cook and then sitting down together are all about! I don’t know if it’s always a sacred, happy time at our house, but we are working on it, and I cherish it. Even on the messy days!
Wherever you are in your mothering journey, I hope you know what a wonderful thing you are doing. There is nothing more valuable. I am still learning and understanding each day that there is no better way to spend a moment than to nurture, and to nourish the little ones who call us mom.