*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Looking after your kids and preparing homecooked meals makes sense when they're little, and you want to make sure they don't have too many sweets and keep up their energy.
What do you do, though, when they're already grown up, and they can't seem to get over their habit of having each meal made by their mom? Is there an age when you should stop doing that and teach them how to cook to avoid any issues?
My friend Martha has been married for 28 years to her husband, Timothy. Together they had one son, and she's been a full-time mom for many years.
"When David, our son, was born, we immediately knew we didn't want to have a babysitter coming by the house every day. And it didn't seem fair to ask our parents to look after him all the time either. We wanted our memories and our love to be close to him. So, we agreed I would stay home and take care of him while keeping the house looking neat and tidy," Martha said.
The mom doesn't regret giving up on her career because looking after her family is her priority at all times.
"Maybe I could have earned more or got promoted. But all that wouldn't compare to the joy of seeing my son every day, making my husband comfortable, and just having a happy life together while parenting David," the mom added.
As time went by, she made cooking an essential part of every day. She even took classes for several dishes and woke up early each day so her son and husband could have a tasty breakfast and avoid getting takeouts.
"My meals became a way to connect, to sit around the table and talk about what we had planned, new goals for the day, or just laugh for a while and have something yummy," Martha said.
Her husband did order food when he was at work because it was too far to drive home for his lunch break, but her son always managed to get home during his break at school and later on when he was in college.
"He never wanted to live too far from me, and he just loved my cooking. I had no problem making meals and snacks for him. I also put them in lunch boxes sometimes when he only had 5 minutes to come by. I thought this was a way of creating memories too, as I have with my grandmother and her dishes," the mom said.
As it turns out, David got so attached to her cooking that it became the main reason why he won't rent his own place, even though he now works full-time and can afford it.
"He earns well, and he helps us with the bills. I asked him several times, but he keeps telling me he won't move away because he wants to be close to us, and he wouldn't go without my meals," Martha said.
Even though it seemed like a great way to show his mom how much he cared about her, making his meals each and every day can take a toll on Martha. If anything happens, and she doesn't have time to prepare something for him, his reaction can be very unpredictable.
"I try to cook what he likes each day, but sometimes I have errands to solve, or I need to get to an appointment on time. When his meal isn't there, he still won't get takeouts. And he will be upset with me for the rest of the day or even get into an argument," Martha said.
David is now 35, but he still thinks it's ok to demand his meals, and he also expects them on time, served on a plate while he watches TV or when he works from home.
And this week, he was so disappointed when his mom got busy on Wednesday that he didn't hesitate to shout and cry for a good while. His mom was confused about how to comfort him and tried to say she was sorry, but he wouldn't listen to her.
"He cried for 2 hours because I forgot to make him breakfast; he's 35, but sometimes he behaves like he's still a teenager. I don't know how to make him see he can't do that, and when I'm away, he can cook himself. He actually knows how to, just never does it," Martha said.
David hasn't talked to his mom on that day, but since the meals are his favorite time of day, he got back on track the following day, and everything seems ok for now.
However, Martha is worried because she has appointments all next week and doesn't want something like that to happen again.
How do you think this should be handled? Was it fair for David to react like that just because his mom was too busy and couldn't make him breakfast one morning? Should he still expect that when he's 35?
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