Friday, March 2, 2012

The First Dinner - Slice of Life Challenge

Is there anything more fun as a mom of older children than the "first dinner"?  Those of you with older children know what I mean -- that first dinner you prepare/share with your child on their visit home after being gone at college or at the place they now reside.  And, at least in our family, much thought and deliberation goes into deciding of what exactly that meal will consist.

True to tradition, our youngest daughter came home on Wednesday for a long weekend from college.  But, I got the phone call about her "first dinner" the weekend before.  She listed four different foods she wanted for her first meal home, and fretted about which one should be her final pick.  The meal's main requirement was that it needed to have meat.  She eats very little meat at college, and tries to remedy that while visiting at home.

I love the deliberations she was making while talking to me on the phone -- should it be chicken enchiladas, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, sloppy joes, or a taco bar??  Decisions, decisions.  The amount of thinking that went into making her choice would serve her well when studying for exams (but I digress, slightly).  My job was just to listen to her list the pros and cons of each choice, and then enthusiastically agree with whatever decision she made.  After much back and forth, meatloaf and mashed potatoes were declared the winner.

On Wednesday, the actual evening of the dinner, it was wonderful to watch her devour her favorite foods that I had lovingly prepared.  However, the real gift of the meal was the conversation that accompanied it.  What a gift as a parent to have a child back at the table from which she has been absent too long!  My children think the food they choose is the most important part; I know that their presence and their conversation is why I will continue to happily make whatever food they request for their "first dinner".

Please check out more Slices of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.


  1. I remember these dinners! I was always in close contact with my parents so I often felt most homesick for the food. Our cafeteria food wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything like home.
    I am now very hungry for meatloaf and mashed potatoes...

  2. My oldest is a junior in high school so these years are coming for me. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of what is to come. It will be different but reading the joy and pride in your voice gives me hope for these days ahead.

  3. Karen,
    I hope my kids don't read this as it will surely give them ideas. I do try to fix their favorite meals while they are home, but I must admit I love the message of the first meal. My daughter, Cortney, usually makes it a rule that we have two vegetables with every meal while she is home. My son usually puts his focus on breakfast. No matter what, you are right, it is just nice to have them back at the table if only for a few days.

  4. Beautiful post, Karen! I remember planning with my mom many a first meal home -- usually, my request was homemade pizza, but I can also relate to the request for non-college meat! I've been a vegetarian the last seven years, but I wonder if college meat ruined me for all things meat ;)

    I love how you captured the anticipation of going home through the anticipation of a great meal.

    Happy SOLC12!

    Gretchen Taylor

  5. What a great tradition! I'm dreading next year, when my oldest goes 800 miles away! Don't think he will get home, even for special dinners too often! Which he is probably glad about, given my vast culinary expertise!

  6. Love this! My great aunt and uncle are in their late 80s. When their daughter comes in from Tucson they still serve her favorite meal - meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I love watching their faces at dinner and knowing while their is importance to the actual food, it doesn't hold a candle to the conversation and people. Love seeing that in your slice as well.

  7. I even remember coming back home my first time; it is a very special moment. You wrote the words just right, the important part to a parent is to have that table be complete once again. As parents we say goodbye all through the years, and this college thing is just one more step, isn't it? What a beautiful piece to share today, Karen. And I loved that detailed deliberation of the meals-what a chuckle our kids give us! Thank you!

  8. I remember making those very same meal requests. I still do at holiday and special weekends. Nothing's better than Mom's homecooking!

  9. Ohhh, these dinners seem so far away for my young family. And yet, I tell myself they will be here before I know it.
    Thanks for slicing,

  10. Hmmm...I'm not sure what it says about me that my daughter's first meal request when she came home from college was to go to her favorite restaurant!

    I loved your story and all the feeling behind it.

  11. So good to catch up with you on Saturday! Your post brought me back to those days of "first dinners" after the long stretches of time away. We still do "first dinners" when we visit my mom's in Cleveland. Except now, she doesn't give a rip what I want--it is all about her grandkids. :)

  12. Oh reading this one through tear stained eyes. My baby will leave for college this fall, although it is just 45 minutes away I have a sneaky feeling the only thing that will bring this one home will be the meals. I loved your last line. It is most indeed the conversation that feeds us moms.

    First Grade @ Klinger Cafe

  13. I just sent my oldest off to university last fall. It was one of the most diffcult things I have had to do. I miss him and love it when he is home. I only wish he would talk a bit more. I want to hear about everything I am missing in his life.

  14. One of the first times my son came home from college, I prepared his favorite meatballs and sauce. On the way home from the airport, he announced he was now a vegetarian. I wanted this homecoming to be so special. As he entered the house, smelled the aroma, he decided to put his vegetarianism on hold and ate six meatballs!

  15. I love how you share the detail of getting the phone call for the "first dinner" the weekend before. As that seems to be a part of this whole ritual. What a special time. I can just see you sitting watching her eat and soaking in all the conversation. Thanks for letting us share in these precious moments of your life!