What is it about watching your children chow down on a good meal that makes you feel like all is right in the world? Is it pride in putting together a nutritious meal that they enjoyed? Happiness that you’re able to provide for one of your child’s most basic needs? I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know that my chest puffed up when my two year old asked for seconds, and then thirds, of the dinner I served last night. My one year old happily munched on the same meal eating a nice-sized portion herself.
My deep-seated sense of well-being, brought on by my children’s hearty appetites, reminded me of an apron-wearing, wrinkled nonna who delighted in stuffing me with pastries and pork roast and pasta the last time I traveled abroad. My husband and I took a trip to Italy the month before we got pregnant with our first child. While there, we visited some relatives that lived in San Marino, one of which was Aunt Rita. Aunt Rita was ecstatic about our visit because she got to practice English and hear international family gossip. I must admit that I was warned before arrival that no matter how much I protested, food would be forthcoming at all times. And it was true. The more we ate, the happier she got. I now understand why she smiled with accomplishment as we forked her delicious meals into our mouths.
I think the mama contentment I get from a well-fed toddler comes from the same place that inwardly sighs when I see my kids, dressed in fuzzy pajamas with feet, laying on their tummies, mouths agape, dreams deep into sleep. Or, it could live right alongside the validation I feel when my kids turn to me as their only comfort after a hard fall, a fear or a long, tiring day. Either way, I’m happy to have all three feelings dwell inside me. I guess all the spiritual gurus are right – giving really does feel better than receiving.
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