“Eating for two.”
That’s what I focused on when I first found out I was pregnant.
My body didn’t belong to just me anymore. What I ate mattered. What I did mattered. Not just to me, but to the tiny little person I hoped to meet one day soon.
I took my supplements. I ate as healthfully as I could, cautiously—things like carrots and snow peas and edamame for protein. I knew every bite I took would help to grow my son. I followed my pregnancy app religiously so I would know what the food I was eating was helping him grow.
Tiny eyes on week three. Arms in week eight, followed by teeny little fingers in week nine. Tiny eyelashes in week 32.
Another bite. Another milestone.
Another day of feeding my son.
Before I knew it he was here. Ten little fingers and ten little toes, and short, dark hair. His smell was irresistible. And while it took his big sister a while to warm to me—and, if we’re being honest, me to her—he snuggled in right away.
He worked his tiny, wrinkled, little body from where they placed him on my belly all the way up to my chest. He clung to me like I’d only seen in movies. He found his way to my breast and latched on. Fiercely, he declared me to be his home.
An amazing moment. A beautiful day. A new way of feeding my son.
He nursed furiously and easily, like only a second baby can. It came naturally to both of us this time around. But it wasn’t long before he started noticing that others were eating something different. I could no longer hold him at mealtimes without him trying to grab something off my plate. His little fingers explored the dishes in front of him, and his eyes begged us to let him try something different.
A mushed avocado. Steamed carrots, diced small. His first muffin, crumbled to pieces and devoured.
Another day, feeding my son.
Soon, it was on to full meals and challenging appetites. He loved fruit until he hated it. He gobbled up chicken until he didn’t. The broccoli he once loved was now scattered across my dining room floor, flung there in a fury of fussy eating.
I tried not to grimace as I swept the floor . . . again. Another day, another struggle, feeding my son.
A big boy now released from his high chair and sitting at the table. Tiny hands clinging to his family as we said grace. Announcing proudly that he closed his eyes so Jesus would be happy at him.
No longer fighting the foods on his plate but selectively nibbling. A little rice. A little chicken with the pepper scraped off. A request for a second roll and a grateful “thanks mommy, you the best” as I hand it to him.
Another day around our family’s table, feeding my son.
I imagine him now, a teenager, his big presence looming at the dinner table. A hungry hand reaching into the fridge, eating all the leftovers and asking what’s for dinner. A grocery cart overflowing with food, wide eyes when the cashier gives the total.
“Teenage boy,” I’ll tell her. “I’m gonna go bankrupt if I’m not careful.”
Feeding my son.
A college student, home for break. Laundry to wash and dishes to clean. Requests for his favorite lemon chicken, those banana muffins with the chocolate chips, a peanut butter and jelly the way only mom can make it.
Cookies wrapped in bubble wrap and shipped across the state. Care packages full of beef jerky, those peanuts he likes, and packs of gum. Tucked into the box, love notes and reassurance and reminders that home waits for him.
Another year will go by. I’ll still be feeding my son.
It won’t always be snacks and meals and ridiculous grocery bills. His needs will change, and I will do my best to keep up. Nourishing foods will give way to advice about career paths, about partners. When I’m lucky, a Sunday dinner at home.
Someday, maybe, advice about kids. What to do when the fever won’t break. When the milestones aren’t being met. When the meals aren’t being eaten.
And I’ll tell my son what I know.
What I’ve learned about raising boys, what I’ve learned about loving them. What I’ve learned about spending your days nourishing tiny humans who are fully dependent on you.
I’ll tell him everything I’ve learned about parenting over the years.
Everything I’ve learned during the various stages of life.
What I’ve learned in all those days—those beautiful, chaotic, frustrating, priceless days.
Feeding my son.