The closer I get to my son leaving for college, the more I cook.

I'm not really sure what the correlation is.

The closer I get to my son leaving for college, the more I cook.

I'm not really sure what the correlation is.

I have never been a big cook. Given the choice between take out and cooking, I'll choose the pizza every time.

Of course, being a mom, I've had to learn how to do some minimal cooking to keep my family alive.

I perfected about six or so dishes that I make routinely, if not reluctantly, and while they're not the most dazzling entrees, I also haven't given anyone food poisoning, hives, or food phobias from my cooking (that I know of).

However, in the last week, I've been cooking up a storm. I made a huge pot of chili in the slow cooker, enough baked ziti to feed an army, two platters of grilled veggie wraps and a pesto chicken pasta that serves 16.

And this was all just for my son.

Then, for his breakfast this morning, I made him a mixed berry fruit salad, grilled Andouille sausage, a toasted cinnamon raison bagel with cream cheese and lox, fresh squeezed juice, and chocolate chip pancakes.

I'm already planning the menu for lunch.

Now my son is not a particularly big kid. He's about 5'10" and 145 pounds.

Yet I am plying him with food as though he were a defensive lineman on his college football team with a nickname like The Tank.

Of course, if he eats everything I've been making him, he could end up looking like a tank, or, at the very lest, a small SUV, neither of which are a good look for an incoming college freshmen.

In spite of his slight stature, though, he still manages to pack it all away, a sight that warms my heart and, for some reason, seems to ease the pain of his leaving.

Psychologists often say that food equals love.

We often use food to show love and affection for people.

I guess somehow I know that my son wouldn't appreciate it if I walked around spontaneously hugging him for the next week.

So instead I am showering him with food.

I am hugging him with pasta and adoring him with Andouille sausage.

Like a mama bear that encourages her cubs to eat heartily before hibernation, I'm filling my son with love to carry him through the long winter months while he is away at school.

While the food he eats will be long gone before the first class, hopefully the feeling of being full of love will stay with him at least until winter break.

It doesn't seem that long ago that I arrived at college and found a package waiting for me from my grandmother. There were three dozen cans of tuna fish inside.

I like tuna fish, but even for me, this seemed a little excessive, especially considering I was on the full meal plan at school.

When I called her to say thanks, I had to ask, "Hey, Grandma, no offense, but what's with all the tuna?"

"If I could be there to cook for you, I would. But I can't. So I'm sending you tuna instead," she replied.

And I knew then, she wasn't sending me tuna.

She was sending me her love.