Lunch Box Love

by Belinda Munoz on October 4, 2010

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A few weeks ago, son started attending a new pre-school. I knew with a mother’s intuition that he’d do well. What I worried about most was his lunch box.

You see, I secretly feared that he only ate my cooking in my presence. To spare my feelings. Out of sight, I wondered if he’d stealthily dump the contents of his BPA-free box into the garbage can, or worse, pay some business savvy 3-year old in stickers and magnets for a trade.

Knowing that son dislikes grocery shopping even more than I do, I did major research before the school year started. I got a hold of every cookbook geared toward satisfying small stomachs. I coaxed ideas from more experienced parents, sneaking peeks into their grocery carts, watching what their little boys reach for in the aisles.

Learnings?

Insecurity can be a major motivator. I had very little confidence in my pre-school lunch-packing skills. Historically, some of my insecurities have made me run or hide. But this boy needs to eat so there’s no shirking this particular responsibility.

Education saves the day. For some illogical reason (ha, what thinking-feeling being can’t relate to this oxymoron?), I didn’t feel that knowing my kid and what he likes to eat is enough to guide my oh-so-dark-still early-morning balanced meal plan execution. So, I taught myself what I didn’t already know about portion sizes for the wee ones, what keeps well in an insulated pack, what can sit around for a few hours and stay fresh, what tastes great and doesn’t require re-heating. I know. Any adult most likely already knows these things. But still, nothing beats insecurity better than a well-planned execution of a task.

Acting with love wins. Once I felt confident that I knew enough to build a yummy box, I was ready to play. Shapes and layers? Fun. Colors and textures? Absolutely. Flavors and nutrients? A must. Skewers and stems? Bring ’em on. When love rules a process, magic isn’t far behind. I found out later that son’s lunches were referred to as works of art and had on occasion been a point of discussion at faculty meetings. Fancy that!

Weeks later, I still pay attention to every detail that goes in to this little insulated pack. On the way to school, son and I play guessing game as to what’s inside. It very often comes back empty with a short but reassuring little-voice evaluation from a satisfied customer. It’s a small thing in the parental scheme of things. I know.

Nevertheless, it’s a nice reminder that love, even when indirect, remote and packaged shut tight, can still be felt and appreciated. It’s good to know, not just as a parent but as a human being, that love has an unstoppable rhythm — in or out of a box. Because all too often, it’s easy to forget when things, when we, block its flow.

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  • Do you ever caution yourself from committing an act of love?
  • Do you ever struggle with letting love flow freely?
  • Do you make lunch boxes for little ones?

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October 4, 2010 at 10:23 am

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joy October 4, 2010 at 3:08 am

Wow Belinda,
The last lines teared me right up…so true..
I make lunch boxes for little ones..I put as much love into them as a mother can..and I make lunch boxes for big ones too with just as much love..
I tend to lead with my heart, but there are times fear allows me to block a gesture of love that would otherwise run freely..I release that fear and open my heart because life is to be experienced and the only way I know to experience is through love..magnifies as I allow it to flow..

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2 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Thank you, Joy. Sounds like we have much to learn from you.

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3 Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce October 4, 2010 at 3:37 am

I’ve been baking banana bread or some variation of it (banana apple cake) a couple of times a week lately. I have no idea why but it makes me feel like I am sending a piece of me with them. It warms my heart.

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4 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Hi Molly, this need to express love for our children — it’s intense, isn’t it? And somehow, food preparation seems to be an easy way to satisfy it, something I couldn’t relate to until I became a mother.

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5 ayala October 4, 2010 at 6:36 am

I love this post! I smiled remembering how my son would trade items from his lunch box !
I make lunches with love and food with love!!! I love the details and the thought that goes into making our children happy!! Your son will always treasure the little things that you do .
The little things are the ones that become the big ones!

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6 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Ayala, thank you for this statement — “The little things are the ones that become the big ones”. I suspect this but I haven’t fully grasped this where my little one is concerned so hearing you say this gives me food for thought.

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7 Katie Tallo October 4, 2010 at 7:01 am

Belinda, what a beautiful mom you are. You’ve made your son’s lunch a work of art and in the process are truly an artist of life and an inspiration to do the small things better, more creatively, more lovingly. Dinner tonight is going to rock my family’s world. Thank you.

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8 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 9:03 pm

You made my day, Katie! I truly do enjoy investing love and creativity in the small things because, well, so much of our special moments are made up of small things. Glad I could send some inspiration your way today.

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9 Giulietta Nardone October 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

Hi Belinda,

Show love! That’s the most fulfilling way to go through life. I, too, adore that you created works of art for your son’s lunch. We need more beauty in our everyday lives. This is a great way to see it at lunch time. Almost like your son’s own little art gallery. You are a chef of love!

Giulietta

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10 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 9:18 pm

A little gallery? What a great way to frame it, Giulietta! And yes, show love — you said it perfectly — it is the most fulfilling way to go through life.

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11 Rudri October 4, 2010 at 9:53 am

My daughter and I make her lunch together. She loves putting things she likes in it and she always is so proud when she comes home, saying, “Momma, look I ate everything in my lunch.” My Mom has often told me about cooking, that if you make an item with clear heart and lots of love, your guests will love it.
Love the pic and all the textures and colors you included in your son’s lunchbox.

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12 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm

How fun that she is co-designer of her box, Rudri! What a wonderful way to have fun in the morning as well as build her confidence. And I love your Mom’s words. Makes me want to throw a dinner party!

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13 Aging Mommy October 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

Lovely post, I liked your last paragraph especially. A lunch box made and filled with love, what child could resist that 🙂

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14 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Thank you, AM.

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15 Marci October 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Thank you – it’s always great to be reminded of the little things we do. Even better to be reminded with creative reassurance: “Nevertheless, it’s a nice reminder that love, even when indirect, remote and packaged shut tight, can still be felt and appreciated. It’s good to know, not just as a parent but as a human being, that love has an unstoppable rhythm — in or out of a box.”

I all too often complain about the little things I do as a mom. What a bright light on such a simple thing!

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16 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Thank you, Marci. I am far from immune to complaining; husband could probably write songs about that in his sleep. Glad you found this reassuring.

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17 Fr. Michael October 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

What a great mom!

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18 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Hey, thanks for the encouragement! Sometimes, yes; every now and then, not so much.

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19 melanie October 4, 2010 at 10:46 pm

All too often I take the morning lunch packing for granted. As I’m running late with a crabby baby on one hip and a very eager and energetic preschooler nipping at my heels, I grab the easiest, quickest and guaranteed daughter pleasers. I had high hopes of healthy, fun snacks and visions of her opening little notes I tucked away for her. 1 month into school and not one note has been written. I’ve wasted her first month of school rushing through something that should be fun and filled with love. Thank you for this reminder to slow down and enjoy it. Your son is a very lucky son.

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20 Belinda Munoz October 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Hey Melanie, so nice to see you here! I think we do what we can and that’s always okay. I happen to have the advantage of being able to focus on one box (not multiples and not having to care for another little one), lucky for my little one. Add another kid in the mix and that pack might look a lot like a pre-packaged Lunchables, which, by the way, I don’t have a problem with.

And hey, I haven’t forgotten about your green eggs and ham! That, my friend, was memorable!

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21 The Exception October 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

I love this and have to admit that I am curious as to what goes into these lunches as they sound delightful!!
My daughter is one with a very distinguished sense of taste – so her lunches reflect that – healthy, fulfilling, and lacking of creativity. That said, I am the note mom… slipping in a card, a note, a letter from a cat. She is in 5th grade now and I am not sure if that is too old for the “notes” but she still receives them now and again or a surprise now and again.

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22 Justine October 5, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I am dying to make lunch boxes for my Little Miss but that also means I’m wishing time away so I shall refrain. But still. Food is a passion of mine and I think I would do exactly as you – research, spend time/energy in preparing, etc.

I love that you can take away so much from your experience in preparing a lunchbox. But it is symbolic of many things we do for our kids.

“It’s a small thing in the parental scheme of things. I know” – It’s the little things that count and in the end, it’s usually the little things we remember the most. When you stop doing this for him someday, I bet he will miss it. Maybe even for years to come. You’ll see.

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23 BigLittleWolf October 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I, too, loved your closing lines! But also, “education saves the day” is true in so many instances. Amazing what a small bit of knowledge can do – alleviating our insecurities, reinforcing our confidence, and spurring us to act in ways that are helpful.

I still make my 17-year old’s lunch every morning, running through what he likes and doesn’t, what nutrients he needs, knowing how many hours of fuel it provides, and occasionally packing something special that he’ll enjoy. With love.

It’s what we do, isn’t it? And happy for the privilege of doing it?

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24 Sara Healy October 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Belinda — you could start a business, making these lunches. I loved the picture and there’s so much to see and eat in that box. I also loved your message. It really touched me. I don’t have little ones anymore and I don’t think fixing the dog and the cat their food is quite the same:~)

My past can sometimes get in the way of me letting love flow freely in relationships. It was different with my kids. I worried about that before I had kids. I knew my past could be a problem, but it really never was with my girls. I love them freely and fiercely even though they grown women now:~)

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25 Dia October 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Hi Belinda,

I believe we should learn to give love freely, especially to our children and nurture them. Once we remember that we are all humans and need love, then we can give love more easily. Thanks for sharing

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26 Lauren October 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Dear Belinda,

What a beautiful, heartwarming tribute to love. I am so touched by the depth of love in these words – and artful masterpieces.

I can imagine your beautiful boy reminiscing about your lunches as an adult. And I love the fun you’re having together with it.

The creativity of this act of love is awesome.

And, as always, Belinda, you serve it up to us with wit and a lovely way with words, not to mention way cool photos!

This is wonderful!

Love,
Lauren

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27 Jenny October 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm

When love rules a process, magic isn’t far behind.
Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I will be copying that out and taping it to my wall, with your name of course.
Beautiful!

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