The Secret Recipe

Maureen Stiles essays

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I believe, on my tombstone, it will say:

“She fed them well.”

When you are raising three boys—no matter the ages or stages of those boys—much of how they view you as a mother has to do with food.

I am a rock solid success when the cupboards are stocked and a loveless shrew when they are bare. That is just the way boys roll.

So, I provide.

In the most basic, rudimentary sense it is a simple task. Their stomachs nudge them and they, in turn, nudge me. On continuous loop all day.

Often they are hungry in ways even they don’t recognize, sustenance comes in many forms.

I am the keeper of the secret recipe for relationship success in the mysterious realm of females. It is my job to give them a taste of our world, our perspective and our expectations. More importantly, I must teach them to savor the gender disparities and grow from those seemingly wide expanses. Which, as they mature, will become less and less broad. Although, I admit, no less confusing.

I am also responsible for creating a delicate blend of masculinity and tenderness. To me, compassion is the one ingredient essential to happiness in every human being. Only by extending beyond ourselves to reach another, do we find our own greatness. And I so want them to be great.

I share these responsibilities with my husband, their father, as well. He sprinkles his wisdom into the pot through words and deeds, but we each bring different flavors to the table.

His specialties are potent, bold and spicy; bulking up his boys to take on the world. Conversely, I serve a feast of comfort to soothe, nurture and bring warmth to body and mind. 

As the one who spends more time with our sons, I am charged with quelling the appetite of these voracious boys. But, secretly, I hope I never do.

I want to keep feeding them. All of them. Their entire being.

Hunger and satiation go hand in hand, they long to be full.

Full of life.

Full of love.

Full of promise.

The irony is, if the hunger abates then I have not done my job.

The idea of “full” will shift throughout the years as will the cravings. Through the care and feeding, I am teaching them that hunger is essential to growth.

Most importantly, I am preparing them to listen to the hunger and feed themselves long after I am here to provide for them.


About the Author

Maureen Stiles

Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. Keep up with her on her blog, .

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