A Love Sandwich

I was basking in the glow of holding the galleys from my book for the first time when my 13 year-old son slammed the car door, hard. “I’ve had it,” He said. “Did you know that most of my friends still get their lunches made for them?”

Pop went my euphoria and I calmly responded, “Well honey, there’s nothing stopping you from making yourself a great big lunch. I’m happy to get you anything you want from Trader Joe’s.”

“But I’m too tired in the morning. And it’s the last few weeks of school. And I’m graduating. So I’m extra tired. I need a sandwich with three different meats and two kinds of cheese and hummus and great bread. I need something with passion. I need a love sandwich.”

Now, the feminist in me, the one who taught my kids to make their own lunches by 6th grade, who included laundry on their list of chores as soon as they could lift the basket alone, who silently smiles as they clean the toilet every three weeks, started shaking her head. No way. I will not raise my child, especially my son, to be helpless. Resist the guilt trip!

But then the same inner feminist nudged me towards fairness. Hey, he’s been making his lunch for years. He’s great at laundry. And he’s a fierce house cleaner. Plus he’s on the cusp of moving on to high school and transitioning to a much bigger world.

The difference between being a victim and empowered person, isn’t that we don’t need help. It’s that we’ve learned how to identify our needs. And then ask for support.

I looked my son in the eye, “So you’re saying that a sandwich with yummy bread and three kinds of meat and cheese and hummus would mean love to you right now?” He nodded vigorously. I continued, “Okay. Until you’re done with school, I’ll make you a sandwich for lunch.”

His eyes widened, “Every day ’til school is out? Seriously?”

Clearly, he had been trained well. “Yup. Every day. But not because of what the other parents do. Because I want to make you a love sandwich.”

Over the next few weeks, making lunch became quite a creative production. And as my son stood by my side, basking in the glow of bountiful meat and cheese and special sauce piled high on a french roll, I realized something else. Being empowered isn’t just about asking for what you need, it’s also the ability to receive with open arms.


*Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

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