Why moms need to feed everyone

So it happened – I just became Maria Portokalos, from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

My son, Noah had been away on business. It had been about a week since I saw him.  He was at his normal work location and stopped by during his lunch. He walks in the door and the first thing I could think of to do was feed him. I don’t know what happened to my brain. I just – snapped. He’s not a kid anymore. There’s basically nothing he needs or wants that I can do for him anymore. And out of nowhere, this deep-seeded maternal instinct took over and all I could think was, “FEED HIM! Make him food!”

It came out of my mouth before I knew what was happening – “Are you hungry? Do you want me to make you something? Sit! I’ll fix you something! What you want – I make anything!” I think I even had the Greek accent and I’m not Greek. Italian yes, but this was discernibly Greek flavored.

I even did it to his girlfriend a week before this. She was at our house while he was still at work. Knowing she had not eaten anything yet that day, I said, “Can I make you something?” She sweetly declined and then asked if maybe we had cereal. She didn’t want me to go to any trouble, she said. Then it hit – that wave of maternal instinct and before I knew it I was bombarding her with questions of what she likes, what did she have planned that day so the nutrition would be best for her and then I was cooking like a woman possessed. In the middle of washing the pans while she was eating at the counter she made some passing comment about how much she loved hot cocoa with fresh whipped cream. “I can make you some,” I pronounced victoriously! Ten minutes later she was holding a tall mocha cocoa with fresh whipped cream. Noah then walked in the door, “Where’d you get that?!”

Probably the longest running joke among families and people I know, that when they go to their mother’s house, the first thing mom does is offer food. “I’m not hungry,” carries no weight and the response to saying you’re not hungry is to be offered something else. There’s no logic to it. Random plastic wrap covered dishes and snap-closed containers just keep appearing on the counter like some insane $9.95 all-you-can-eat buffet as though their materialization will spurn your appetite into a feeding frenzy.

portokalos2It does not matter how many times you decline or politely refuse the offers, it just keeps coming. You may get a 15 minute respite, but it will come back with a vengeance broached by, “Are you SURE you don’t want anything!? *GASP* I just remembered I still have some of those cranberry muffins in the freezer left over from Thanksgiving. You remember the ones you liked so much??” (Not really – that was November – it’s now May). You decline again which incites her to begin offering to cook things. Things that make no sense to offer when you’re only there for 30 minutes. Things like beef wellington and baked Alaska.

So now I get it. I experienced it. It comes from the overwhelming need to nurture. It’s not some insane-o personality quirk. It’s an honest and sincere response to want to care for your child no matter how old they are. So the next time your mom opens the refrigerator after you just walked in and follows with, “Are you hungry? Do you want something? I can make you a grilled cheese! Remember how much you used to love those after school, right before you watched Giligan’s Island reruns?” She’s not losing her mind. I promise. It’s her absolute love for you and her need to make sure you are absolutely comfortable, cared for and content at all times in her presence.

PS – Mom – The next time you offer me your new hummus or pizza creation – I promise to have some and not just say, “That’s okay, I’m good, thanks.” I get it. It really had nothing to do with the food in the first place. It’s just because you love me.