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So much of life centers on food . . . a primary need for our existence. Without it, we couldn't live and we learn that from the first suckle at our mother's breast or the bottle of warm milk. But much more is involved in those first experiences of nurturing and sustenance for the human child.

Few things can compare to the feelings transferred between mother and infant in those early moments and days of warmth and cuddling. Gazing into the eyes of your newborn, whose face was still unknown just days ago, is a mystical transport to wonderment and will begin to build the first layers of love's bonding.

Throughout life, the need for food of many kinds will be a driving force in self-fulfillment . . . the need for nourishment of body, mind and spirit. Yet, our children will always need the food of our love and acceptance throughout their lives, whether some believe it or not . . . they do. The roots of love grow deep and are buried in the souls of our offspring . . . ingested by every cell that remembers and long after we are gone they will remain.

I remember a phrase from long ago on our Marriage Encounter: "Love is a decision" and those words came alive when our kids were teenagers. Love isn't always easy when the rebels are roosting and your son's hair looks like a pink chicken is his mother. Love isn't easy when your fifteen year old daughter tells you she thinks she's pregnant. And where is love when a son calls his father sobbing he's been locked up in jail for drunk driving? Oh, where are those feelings we had for them when they were little and innocent? Well again and again, and again . . . those words ring true: Love is a decision." So after you rip out your hair and make strange promises to God, after you threaten to disown that mortification of a child . . . take a minute to breathe and look in the mirror . . . you might get flashbacks of your own rebel days . . . you might even say " This child is mine and I will love him through it" and make the decision to do what must be done . . . with love. Don't wait or turn away blind. Blunders are opportunities for growth . . . and to quote an old wise person: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!"

Joanne Cucinello