The Best and Only Reason You Need To Suffer Through Cafeteria Lunches With Your Child


There is very little desire in my flesh to spend an hour or two in my children’s elementary (public) school cafeteria watching my kids eat a Sonic grilled cheese.

Of all the things I need to do on my day off work during the week – including the things I only think I need to do – these cafeteria rendezvous are never high on my list.

A few excuses I use are: It’s really loud, the kids are gross when they eat, they’re often obnoxious with their friends, I don’t want to spend money on fast food, and it’s boring for me to just sit there and watch. Those are the top 5 that run through my head, that is.

Every time a child asks and begs me to bring them lunch I stumble through a half dozen reasons why I can’t. That’s my flesh taking over. My flesh has control issues.

Then my spirit, gentle and hopeful, reminds me of my calling to invest in my children’s lives and live in the NOW. It’s about that time, I resort to self-hatred and call myself a half dozen ugly names because I’m so selfish that I don’t even want to spend an extra 30 minutes with my kids at their school.

These are the fields where my mothering battles are fought.

It’s my flesh versus my spirit. My selfish desires battle with my calling to die to myself and live in the NOW.

But in this moment, where my kids gave their final desperate plea for me to bring them lunch knowing full well I was off work all day, my spirit took over.

I said, “yes, I will bring you lunch today.”

My yes wasn’t just a “yes, be quiet – I’ll come.” My yes was from the deepest desires of my heart. It was a yes to the NOW moment, the moments that won’t be here for long but they are here NOW.

Because out of the deepest and most precious memories of my heart, I remember bringing lunch to a spunky and cute little first grader (my now 14 year old).

I remember how she held my hand while she stood in line to go back to class and begged me to walk alongside her all the way back to the classroom.

I remember how unfazed she was when other kids would see our differences and whisper, “who is that?”

I can still hear her tiny little voice say without a hint of shame or doubt that we looked nothing alike, “This is my Mom.”

And now that spunky little first grader is nearly all grown up. She doesn’t long to hold my hand, nor ask me to sit beside her while she eats. She isn’t as excited to see me at school events and she certainly doesn’t want me walking beside her and her classmates.

But she did. And now I cherish those memories because I said YES to the NOW moment.

And so today, I said yes again. I have 3 elementary aged kids who still hug and kiss me in front of there friends. 3 kids who proudly tell their friends that I’m their mom and that they are adopted. 3 kids who long to linger with me. It won’t always be this way. But it is NOW.

Years from now, when they are my middle schoolers, I will not remember the things that didn’t get done today while I was bringing them Sonic grilled cheese sandwiches.

I will remember their smiles, their hugs, and the precious minutes we shared across a cafeteria table.

And while my spirit doesn’t win every battle against the flesh, I rejoice today in it’s victory.


Picture of Kelly Newcom

Kelly Newcom

Kelly is the author of the book, Managing Media Creating Character, and the founder and executive editor of Brave Parenting. She is a mother of 7 foster-adopted children. Kelly is passionate to help others bravely parent counter to culture and societal norms. She believes parenting is Kingdom work and must be done with the courage and bravery of a warrior of God.

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