When I told my sister-in-law a blog I’d written, called “I’m glad my kids aren’t fat”, was being republished on Mamamia she said: “Good luck and put on your thick skin.”
After the post went live, I nervously checked the comments once, saw a few people were agreeing with me, a few were disagreeing, and decided to leave it at that. Until I got a tweet announcing … “@Mamamia @AlanaHouse My response. I want my girl to be joyful, not ‘thin’.”
I took the bait and clicked through to I want my girl to be joyful, not “thin”
And my thick skin suddenly got thinner.
Some highlights …
“The article has already generated nearly a hundred comments on Mamamia.com.au, some agreeing with the author’s stance, others vehemently arguing that her preoccupation with her children being “thin” is, in fact, a much more damaging example to set them than her self-confessed few extra kilograms …
“My girl will eat vegetables aplenty, and lean meat (no, despite my own choices, I will not raise her vegetarian), and grains and eggs and cheese and all the good things but she will occasionally eat pizza too. And fish and chips and sausage rolls and jelly slices and gosh-darn fairy bread because I remember eating all those things as a kid with such joy.
“My girl will experience joy.
“Because, unlike what the author of this article contends, food doesn’t always have to be just about sustenance. It can be about fun, too …
“I’m working on it so, when she’s older, she never feels like the children of this author will feel when they read this article – that what they weigh is more important to their mother than the joy they feel.”
Oh-kay, I thought. Deep breaths. Not an entirely accurate appraisal of my parenting style, but Mamamia readers don’t read my ramblings every day, so they have no context. Housegoeshome regulars know that I am not a) preoccupied with my children being thin, b) intent on treating food as sustenance instead of fun, and c) making my children feel that what they weigh is more important to me than the joy they feel.
But it still stung. I felt like I was being accused of being a bad mother.
And I suddenly found myself writing a series of “and another thing” comments on Kate’s blog. To be fair to her, she chose a bad day to criticise my parenting. It was my first day back at work after more than 12 months as a stay-at-home mum and I was feeling a bit down about deserting the kids.
I pointed out to Kate that I regularly blog recipes at housegoeshome, and they are just as likely to be cakes and muffins as diety food. I have never mentioned childhood obesity or children’s body image on my blog in the past. We never mention it at home either. Husband is very particular about it. He hates anyone making “you’re so pretty” remarks to the kids – the last thing he wants is them thinking their appearance is what makes them valued human beings. And I’m adamant that my children being kind is what makes me most proud. Being thin is waaaaaay down the list of qualities I admire in them.
Kate was really sweet and apologised: “Gah! This is why I should stick to fiction! I’m sorry if I offended you, Alana – you’re right, I did read your blog post out of context and have now had a squiz at the rest of your site. It’s obviously a sticky issue for me and I’m floundering with how to deal with it. I just hate the thought of my Tiger inheriting any of my insecurities, and I’m desperate to work out a way to prevent it. I obviously don’t have a flipping clue, but I’ll muddle my way through, as we all do! I hope my post didn’t seem judgemental – it wasn’t meant to. It was more a way of me working through my own thoughts than a comment on your parenting. Anyway, babbling again! Thank you for getting in touch and I hope the assumptions you make about me aren’t too harsh!”
I’m not going to make any assumptions about Kate, other than that she was a little quick to make assumptions about me.
But, like I said in one of my many “and another thing” comments: “I still feel glad [my children] aren’t the obese kids at the pool, and I don’t care who slams me for that.”
Such as Justina, who demanded: “How exactly is judging a fat child for exercising in public on a mommyblog going to make it easier for fat children to feel comfortable exercising in public?”
Erm, Justina, the “fat” kids weren’t “exercising”, they were splashing around between mouthfuls of sweet biscuits and hot chips.
But, in the spirit of political correctness, I will apologise to “Aussie in Germany”, who griped: “The most offensive thing about this article is the use of the word “Nazi” The term nazi, used here oh so casually by the author in relation to the task of feeding her kids really belittles tragic events that occurred under a terrible regime. (I had to look twice at the sentence to make sure I wasn’t mistaken) Author and editors lift your game, there are plenty of non offensive adjectives to choose from.”
I stand corrected on being a food “nazi”. It won’t happen again.
(I bet it’s not the end …)