|Freedom From Want by Norman Rockwell|
One of the questions is this: What do you miss most about home?
When I started teaching as a graduate student I was very intimidated by my students who were often close to my age. I was always trying to assert and maintain my authority over them because it felt so tenuous.
Now my oldest son is just a few years younger than my students who are mostly juniors and seniors. I think of them just like the grandmother in Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" thinks of The Misfit who shot her family and is about to shoot her, when she looks at him and says, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!"
Once you've had kids it's hard not to look at other people and see them as someone's child, which is one way being a parent can make you more compassionate.
So these students in my class who could be my children or your children and who are certainly the children of someone wrote that what they miss most about home is the food. They miss someone else making it for them or buying it for them. One student mentioned missing Costco shopping days, especially.
I'm not very good at domestic arts and feel conflicted about some of them because of feminism. Also, as your kids get older you really want to buck the notion that you are just there to cook and clean for them. There's so much more to parenting than that. It's complex and multi-faceted. You have to teach them how to work, show them how to serve, be an example of a good person. You read to them and make sure they do their homework. You refine them and help them be their best. It's important to do all of this. But they don't miss it when they're gone. What they miss is being taken care of.
My students' responses underscored for me that parenting is essentially selfless. What I want to instill in my kids and do for them is not just food-based. But some of the things I do for them that make them feel most cared for like ironing their clothes or cooking their food (servile things) are the things that mean the most to them. My own mom parented me in multi-faceted and complex ways, but now what I mostly want is for her to cook a delicious Sunday dinner for me once a month and I do miss eating sandwiches that I didn't have to make myself, just like my students miss having their food prepared for them at home. There is more to parenting than feeding your kids, but feeding them is a really big part of it and according to my students that's what they miss most when they are away from home.