Two giggling girls, eating their sausage ‘cross aunts’, on a cold, Wednesday morning in January, are seated at the kitchen bar. My daughter, Hope, isn’t usually a big breakfast eater. But since I’ve been helping her friend, Kassy, this month with a ride to school, Hope’s carb-loving tongue and belly devour three Pillsbury Crescent Rolls stuffed with sausage that Kassy’s mother has so graciously sent along.

Fourteen years ago this month, I began feeding my two sons big breakfasts. Both boys told me during their Christmas break that they were getting hungry before lunch at school. Cereal or frozen waffles weren’t enough to keep them going. I remember reflecting on how Wes had less than two years before he would be away at college. Part of loving your children is feeding them. I had always fed my family well, and I hope I loved them better, so getting up a half hour earlier was very doable. I decided to cook a ‘real and big’ breakfast three mornings per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; Tuesday and Thursday would be frozen waffles in the toaster or Jimmy Dean’s sausage biscuits, thawed in the microwave. Both boys were major bacon eaters, and the microwave could do that job easily as well, so I decided to add bacon with the waffles, at least until they grew tired of it.

Initially, 6:15am was daunting, but soon my biological clock was waking me up before the mechanical one. Blaine had given me a Belgium waffle iron for either my birthday or Christmas in 2001 (can’t remember since they’re close together), so I had a new tool to use. Both boys ate scrambled eggs, so those were easy. French toast was a quick and filling meal as well. With the exception of the scrambled eggs, breakfast was carb and calorie-filled, but Wes and Andy were active young men, so I wasn’t concerned about that being an issue.

On their return to school after the holidays, they told me they were feeling much better before lunchtime, and thanked me for the extra effort. Well, I’d like to truly remember that they said something like that, but they probably didn’t. However, there were no complaints.

So it’s been exactly fourteen years since I’ve fed two children breakfast for the month of January. I listen to Hope and Kassy discussing school and all of its dimensions: what they’re learning, teachers, the bus, PE, girl drama, boys. I love how they openly share their thoughts and feelings as they enter these tween years. I imagine my sons perhaps having similar discussions, minus the bus (Wes was driving his jeep to school at this point), girl drama, and boys. Thankfully, boys aren’t as dramatic, at least mine weren’t and they were into girls. However, because they were very different in personality, I doubt they shared much with one another about girls. Andy was our extrovert and very popular; Wes was quiet and timid of girls.

Big breakfast, big personality. But Wes didn’t have a ‘small’ personality. No one does. He knew, however, that Andy’s came naturally. Wes wanted what Andy had, but he knew he wasn’t Andy (I knew he wasn’t supposed to be). But, that was difficult for Wes. He shared that with me just 22 days before the accident. Sometimes Andy’s big personality was too much for Wes. On March 7, 2002 I couldn’t get him to get out of bed to go to school. An overwhelming sadness about lacking a prom date and ‘why am I the way I am’ finally surfaced, as he cried his heart out to me hours later. I don’t remember if that was a ‘big breakfast day’. Wes wouldn’t eat breakfast that morning.

Hope has a big personality, perhaps even bigger than Andy’s. I don’t recall Andy sharing much about girls once he hit 8th grade, but I can only hope that my daughter continues sharing the girl drama and her thoughts about those ‘silly boys’ she often references. She tells me more than I’d like to know sometimes, but I’m still grateful.

When Kassy’s time in the mornings with us comes to a close, and Hope comes downstairs a bit crabby without her presence, perhaps I’ll tease Hope awake with a big breakfast. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday sound doable.