Recently, I was in a meeting with a few colleagues when lunch arrived. It was standard catered fare – a deli tray of meats and cheeses with a choice of bread and rolls, condiments, pickles, and some salads on the side. As folks started to fix plates, one person joked that she preferred the deli trays that comprised sandwiches already made up. She didn’t like having to make her own sandwich. At that point, another person offered to fix her one as it was an activity he DID enjoy. The banter was light and quickly forgotten. But the topic began to tickle my heart a bit. And I couldn’t shake it.
You see, I like to make sandwiches, too. A lot. In fact, I might even confess to loving the act of making a sandwich. Yet, there is one important caveat that stands between me and any aspirations of quitting my job and working at Subway:
I love making sandwiches…. but only for my sons.
It was a truth of which I wasn’t truly aware until I processed the conversation that took place during that lunchtime meeting. As I casually contributed to the conversation the fact that I make Noah and Chase sandwiches all the time, I found myself internally justifying this chore. My sons are 12 and 14 – ages at which sandwich-making falls unequivocally into the DIY category. So why do I jump at this opportunity time and time again with such unadulterated enthusiasm? It’s pretty simple:
Sandwiches = Love.
You see, I put more subliminal thought into making sandwiches for my sons than I do most activities. It is not rocket science, and the entire process takes less than a minute but consider the following conversation that invariably goes on in my head during this 60 seconds:What combination would they enjoy? Let’s start with the potato bread. Where is it? Do we need to buy more?? I really hope we didn’t run out. The I would have to use the double fiber colon-blow bread and they wouldn’t like that. Oh wait, here it is in the back of the refrigerator – but only one shabby piece left. It still feels fresh though. I still need to open a new loaf. Phew – some in the freezer. Let’s warm that up – but not TOO much. But wait! Now the old loaf piece doesn’t match up with the new loaf piece. I’ll start fresh with two pieces of bread from the new loaf. Now the mayo. I am so relieved that the guys entered the wonderful world of condiments. Making dry sandwiches always made me thirsty for them. Ok, not too much though, I don’t want the sandwich to get too soggy. I can add a little more for Chase. Hmm, that enough? Yes, I think so. Now the meat. Oops, its spilling way too far over the side That will make it hard to eat. Let’s start again and fold it. And some cheese – probably a 1:3 ratio is best. Neither likes their sandwiches too stuffed. And Noah’s teeth hurt form his orthodontist appointment yesterday so smaller is better. Let me look at the side view cross section. Does it look substantial enough? Or too thick? I think one more piece of cheese. There! Let’s slice it in half. It’s easier to eat that way But not quarters – THAT would be emasculating. Diagonally never gets any complaints. I think I’ll add some chips on the side. Chase likes to crunch those into the sandwich. Doesn’t that look nice? BOYS – LUNCHTIME!!!
For those MoB readers who are now getting a little creeped out at the apron strings you envision to be extending like evil tentacles from my waist and wrapping themselves around my unsuspecting teenage sons’ necks, fear not. I don’t make the sandwiches for their sake. I make them for mine.
The older my boys grow, the fewer and far between are opportunities to nurture them. And it is the act of caring for them as their mother – not the sandwich making – that I covet. It is one of the few chances I have as we move through life to make something perfect – just the way they like it – and hand it to them on a plate. And it feels awesome in it’s simplicity and its power. Every. Single. Time. If only everything could be like that. But I’ll take what I can get.
For years, I have had this unexplained conviction that, for some reason, no sandwich tastes better than one my mother makes for me. She is no more a sandwich aficionado than I am. But her turkey and cheese is somehow more savory than any I have had anywhere, especially if she sits down next to me with one of her own.
And while there is no outward indication that Noah and Chase have any idea whatsoever about the love that goes into their sandwiches, I am at peace to just to keep on making them.
For reasons that are now entirely clear to me.