By the Time Your Child Is 18, You Will Have Served 20,000 Meals

“Mom, I need a fork.”

Me: “You’re welcome to get one.”

“Mom, can you get me another taco?”

Me: “I just sat down. Can you wait a few minutes? Eat your fruit while you wait.”

“Mom, Quinn spilled!”

Me: “Okay, I’ll be right there!”


That’s the number of meals I’ve served my children since becoming a mom. The way I see it, even when we eat with extended family or go out to a restaurant, I’m still dishing up their plates, cutting food into smaller bites, keeping them from knocking an entrée to the ground, etc.

So barring a few exceptions, I’ve fed my kids three meals a day (not counting snacks!) for the nine years since I became a mother.

That’s 9,855 meals.

By the time a child turns 18, that number will be approaching 20,000.

Kelsi Wood Photography & Design

Even when your child is old enough to pour his own cereal, it will still be because of you that that cereal is in the house. Even if you have help with the childcare, ultimately, you’re still the one responsible (financially and logistically) for making sure each meal happens.

Oh and if you have more than one child—over a range of several years—the total number only grows from there.

No wonder making dinner feels like such a chore!

But this recent realization shook up my perspective in an unexpected way.

Now when I catch a glimpse of my own arm extended, handing my child a plate of food, I see an immense amount of dedication.

The act of continually feeding our children—no matter the season, no matter our mood, no matter our financial situation, no matter our health—is something to stand back and admire.

So maybe you’ve used a few too many technology threats lately. Maybe you forgot to buy recital tickets or sign up for swimming lessons. Maybe you lectured your kids on the way to school this morning instead of sending them off the way you really want to.

But tonight, you’ll set out another meal.

You’ll slice up a chicken breast.

You’ll clean up a spill.

You’ll get up from your chair one million times.

You’ll look into their eyes as they eat.

You’ll feed them, because that’s what you do.

I know it feels like you’re meeting the most basic need, but it’s really so much more than that. You are always there.

Beautiful lifestyle photography via Kelsi Wood Photography & Design. Find her on Instagram here

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  • Reply
    May 24, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    I loved this! Those sweet handprints… thanks for the reminder. It’s sacred work.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      May 24, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      I love those handprints too, Lydia! Thanks so much for reading!

  • Reply
    May 24, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Wow, I’ve never really thought about how many meals I’ve served my children and with a range of ages, I still have many more. I love thinking about moments like this. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      May 25, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks so much for being here, Kizzy! I know—it’s kind of staggering when you add in extra kids! 😉

  • Reply
    Leigh W.
    May 27, 2017 at 9:35 am

    This is so helpful to remember on those days when we are too hard on ourselves!

  • Reply
    Time Out Reads: Return ~ Slowly Lived Magazine
    May 27, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    […] never taken into consideration just how many meals I have made or served to my family. Erica from The Life on Purpose Movement informs us that the total and it’s […]

  • Reply
    Time ~ Slowly Lived Magazine
    June 29, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    […] What about how many meals we as parents make? 20,000 […]

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