I dedicate this post to St. Gianna Beretta Molla, wife, mother, and doctor. St. Gianna is a modern-day saint, familiar with the challenges of modern life and she was a champion of the unborn to the point of sacrificing her own life. She once said, “Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy and strong”.
St. Gianna was a mother of 4. There is no doubt in my mind that this woman knew the challenges of raising children and providing a happy, healthy home. That being said, she loved her children and honored their lives. She died one week after her fourth child was born because she refused to abort her child in order to be fully treated for uterine tumors. She agreed to surgery, but surgery wasn’t going to be enough to save her life. However, it was enough to protect the life of her unborn child.
How do we honor our children in daily life? Do we look at our beautiful gifts and see them as an opportunity to grow God’s kingdom? Do we see in them the potential for greater love, greater wisdom, and greater joy than what we ourselves experience?
I know that I miss this ever-present potential on a regular basis. It tends to get overlooked amidst the daily grind. However, one of the wonderful things about cooking and eating are their unifying power. Cooking and eating together bring us face to face with one another and gives us a common language to speak – flavors, colors, textures, likes, dislikes. These are keys to seeing the beauty and depth of our children’s souls.
There are a few easy ways to include your children in your everyday cooking endeavors safely and with minimal extra work or mess.
- If you prepare a weekly menu, ask them to suggest a meal or dish.
- Invite them to smell ingredients and dishes as they are being prepared.
- Invite them to mix bowls of ingredients after you’ve already gotten the mixture going.
- Invite them to taste individual ingredients – perhaps even consider letting them taste and make choices between two good options for ingredients like vegetables or herbs.
- Ask for their help with finishing touches like herbs, cheese, and other garnishes.
- Invite your child to pray the Our Father with you while washing your hands.
- My daughter’s favorite thing to do in the kitchen is when I give her small ball of dough – cookie, bread, or pasta – that she can play with. I lose one serving and gain a very happy kid!
Jesus left us a meal because we remember the sights, smells, and tastes of food and we associate lessons and memories with them. As St. Gianna said, “Our body is a cenacle, a monstrance: through its crystal the world should see God”.
Even in the busy moments, let your children in. Keep your temple, your mind and your body, healthy so that they may see God through you.