Parenting Duties Series Part One

Parenting School Age Children in Your 20’s & 30’s Verses Parenting Young Adults in Your 40's

To cook or not to cook? that is the question

Introducing Myself:

“Who I Am” Original drawing by Lorraine J. LYLT Expressions

Hello Meliora readers, my name is Lorraine J. and I am excited to be a contributing writer here on Meliora. I am embarking on building my Creative Arts company and in doing so wanted to expand my writing experience and skills by writing here on Medium as well. So, I started my Medium journey in February 2022, started writing for other publications in April, started my own publication last month and just joined Meliora as a contributing writer.

Above is a brief overview of who I am professionally here on Medium but we all know that there is always more to a person than what we do for a living. So who am I when I am not working?

I am a 50 year old (and Lovin it!) Woman, a wife and a mother of two adult children. My husband and I have been married for just about 25 years and either he or I used to cook dinner almost every night. That is until this year when my baby grew up in what seems like overnight and either just doesn’t eat dinner when we cook or would be working late and not be home for dinner.

Where did the time go?

I look at my youngest son who is now 18 years old and wonder what happened to the baby I raised, but then I look at his older brother who will be 24 in July and shake my head because I cannot believe he is not only grown but has been now for just about seven years. Yes my boys are six years apart and are now considered adults. I am both excited but also nostalgic at this realization.

I can remember a time when they were both children and asking me “what’s for dinner?” and then getting playfully irritated when I would respond “food”. Now a days they think it is cute to answer me with that same answer I used to give them when I asked them “what are you eating?” or what did you buy to eat?” Times like this cause me to ask again, “where did the time go?”

Time moved me and my husband into the 50 year old bracket, and moved our boys into adulthood. They are both working and trying to plan their futures. My older son still lives at home but it doesn’t feel like it at times because he has a busy work schedule and comes and goes on his own accord. He has an Associate’s Degree in Welding and works in the field full time while also working a part time job. Then my baby was going to school and working parttime, but now that he has graduated high school has started working full time or as close to it as he can get.

This means that there have been several nights when it is just my husband and I for dinner. It took us a few weeks to realize that we no longer had to cook full meals or every night. This is one of the few things that highlighted for me the very real differences in parenting school age children in your 20’s & 30’s and parenting young adults in your 40's.

Parenting School Age Children in Your 20’s & 30’s: To cook or not to cook? that is the question

Original Canva creation by Lorraine J. LYLT Expressions

To cook or not to cook? Is the first article in my “Parenting Duties Series”, and as you can tell from the title it is about whether parents need to or should cook full meals for dinner when their children are leading their own lives.

This reality sneaks up on you, and takes time for you to fully grasp the fact that you are probably wasting your time and possibly food cooking full meals every night. You slowly begin to realize that your kids have eaten elsewhere, are just too tired to eat or got home too late to want to eat.

Now you have left overs that only you and or your husband eat over the course of the next two or three day. Then there are time when the leftovers just go straight to the dogs (if you have any, or the trash if you don’t) because you know you or your husband just are not going to eat anymore after the second day. Mind you the leftovers were saved with the intentions of your kids eating them the next day, and they STILL DON’T eat them.

After that happens two or three times you begin to realize that the family dynamic has changed right under your nose. And with that change you were hit with the fact that your kids just do not need you that much anymore.

You see, when you are raising school age children (for my husband and I, those were our late 20’s & all of our 30’s) the bulk of your daily live revolves around them and their needs. If you are a mother then you understand fully what I mean.

We become so accustomed to our children relying on us for help and guidance for all the challenges they face as little people growing up. We proudly become aware of the progression of their independence. So much so that we happily welcome the times when we are no longer needed as much. That is except when it comes to dinner.

The independent middle schooler or the even more independent high school child comes in the kitchen at some point in the evening and asks the age old question: “mom/dad what’s for dinner?” Why? Because they know that whether it is take out, left overs or “whatever is in the kitchen” (or as we put it, every person for themselves) we as parents are making that decision for them. Even if they are given the opportunity to suggest or request what dinner will be, we as parents are the ones they rely on to provide it for them. That is, until we are not anymore.

Parenting young adults in your 40’s (now 50): Not to cook. that is the decision

My husband and I slowly began to realize that we were so used to cooking dinner for all four of us that it was a habit even when it no longer needed to be. Oh, but once we fully grasped that realization we changed our habit real quick! We are loving this stage of life we are in now.

Now, we choose whether we are going to cook full meals or not and don’t feel bad about it. We used to cook 4–6 nights a week, sometimes all seven days, and now we only cook full meals 2–3 nights a week.

All the other nights we make small meals for just the two of us or make ourselves something individually. We let our boys know while they are out that we are not cooking so they know what to expect when they get home, and they usually get themselves something to eat or cook up something for themselves when they get home.

Changing with time

As a mom it was hard for me to get used to not feeling obligated to cook. Once I did, however it was such a proud and freeing feeling. While I still treasure cooking for my family I no longer feel obligated to do so. Not feeling obligated makes a huge difference in how you approach a task; that included parenting duties.

Cooking has never been something I loved to do, it was always something I knew I had to do. I would often tell people “I am not one who loves to be in the kitchen, I don’t love cooking. I cook to feed my family”. So naturally it was a task that I approached with little enthusiasm.

Now that I can make the decision to cook if I want to or not cook if I don’t I am finding more enjoyment in it. I even find myself experimenting more with new flavors, ingredients and dishes, something I would not do too often when my kids were younger.

I am at a place in my life where I find that while my kids still need me (which is why I say: “parenting young adults”) they no longer NEED me. While the word “need” is still part of my vocabulary when it comes to my boys, there is such a huge difference in the meaning.

I am enjoying watching them grow up and become young men, and while I miss the times when they were my little boys, I wouldn’t trade this time in my life to go backwards to relive those moments. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds, and NOT cooking if I don’t wanna!

If you like this article, click on the links below to read my profile and some of my other writing. And if you enjoyed this article please continue to read and follow Meliora for the next installment of my Parenting Duties series as well as all of the other great articles Meliora has to offer.

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