Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bad Mommy

A friend, and one-time guest blogger, Tina Jordan, just turned me on to a great blog that is carried by the New York Times called “Motherlode.” There, author Lisa Belkin expounds on a variety of parenting topics, often employing guest bloggers herself. Thanks, Tina. Now I’m really not getting anything done. See, it’s one of those blogs that is alternately fascinating and informative. I don’t really feel like I’m wasting time, because often I learn something. And there are also those times where I’m screaming “AMEN!” at the computer, because here I thought I was alone.

Did I mention that I hold the title of “Meanest Mom Ever”? True that. I told the child who bestowed the honor upon me that I strive to be the best at everything I do, and that includes being the meanest. Ever.

I visited the site the other day, which you can access at and read with interest about one of my favorite topics: snacking. Let me give you a little back story: years ago, when I quit my in-house job to stay home with child #1 while gestating child #2, I started frequenting the local playgrounds and parks, if only to counteract the incredible boredom that comes along with leaving a high-paying, exciting job that offers you the company of fascinating people (hindsight is 20-20 after all) to spend your day with a four-year-old who, previously, has been coddled and mentally stimulated (for a small fortune, of course) by a nanny with only one charge. After my one thousandth game of “Candy Land,” I decided it was time to branch out. After lunch one day, I went to a park within walking distance of our house dragging only me, my kid, and one single, solitary, warm juice box, in the event that said kid would get thirsty. I’m not so worried about hunger, but I do worry about thirst. We got to the park and the kid went off to play, while I sat amidst other moms who were surrounded by coolers full of perishable food, not to mention a cornucopia of dry goods like pretzels, Cheez-Its, Rice Krispie Treats, and a host of other carbohydrates. Child #1, upon gazing at this Bacchanalian spectacle of little kid food, immediately pronounced, “I’m hungry.”

“She couldn’t possibly be,” I protested to the women who had turned their collective suspicious and derisive gaze toward me, “She just ate two slices of pizza. And she only weighs thirty-six pounds.” It never even occurred to me to bring food to the playground. Weren’t we there to play?

But my protestations were in vain. I was “bad mommy.”

When I was a child, we ate three meals a day. We occasionally came in looking for other sorts of treats, but they weren’t to be had. Nobody was cutting up oranges for us to consume at halftime during our CYO basketball games. Dare I say I even went to school a few days without even having eaten breakfast? The horrors. Today’s mothers and fathers are constantly monitoring their children’s food intake, making sure they are sated and hydrated with such fervor one would think that food and drink is scarce.

I was in the post office a few weeks back waiting on an interminable line behind a very pregnant woman with a barely-two-year-old little boy. He made one peep and she started digging around in her very big rucksack for food, offering him oranges, pretzels, water, juice, milk, a half a sandwich, and crackers. Once he made his decision of oranges, she wiped his hands with hand sanitizer (did I mention that he was sitting on the floor in the United States Post Office?) and gave him his snack, which he promptly dropped on the floor, picked up, and shoved in his mouth. When he was done with the oranges, he drank the milk. Then, he started on the crackers. By the time he was done, I think I had gained three pounds just from watching.

Okay, maybe the kid was hungry. Maybe he had hadn’t eaten since the day before. Maybe the mom knew something about his blood sugar that I didn’t. But I can tell you that no child that I know has ever been that hungry that they needed to eat a small meal in the post office a half hour prior to the dinner hour. Where did parents get the idea that kids need to be fed constantly? It’s baffling to me.

Back at the playground, someone eventually gave child #1 a pretzel rod or some such treat and she went off to play, something that the children who had the four-course meal awaiting them at the park bench seemed not to do. They circled like vultures, eating everything their parents had packed up for them, instead of swinging on the swings and playing on the slide and running on the basketball court. Eventually, I succumbed to peer pressure and began bringing a half-eaten bag of whatever snack was in our house, if only to show that I wasn’t completely cruel and heartless mother who denied my child her god-given right to eat a six-foot Italian wedge in between games of hopscotch.

Please feel free to chime in with your own bad mommy stories, Stiletto faithful.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. Love it. Love it. Great post, Maggie.

    My oldest likes to put her thoughts into print and put the Bad Mommy signs on her bedroom door, just so I don't miss the message.

    I have three kids, and they seldom agree on food. I make one meal at dinner, and anybody who doesn't want to eat can wait until breakfast. Some find it cruel. I call it efficient.

  2. The first time I took my niece to the park (she was, like, two maybe), she saw all these mommies who'd spread out blankets and had basketsful of food for their kids. She looked at me and said, "Aunt Susan, I'm hungry. Let's eat lunch!" It was, like, 10:30 on a summer morning! I told her we'd eat lunch at lunch-time, after we played! Reading your post now makes it clear what I'd walked into! Who knew that playgrounds weren't just for playing but were also kiddie buffets? Maggie, you should write a Mommy Blog! You're so funny!


  3. Back in my day we just turned our kids loose and when they got hungry they came home. Only went to the park for birthday parties sometimes.


  4. You can't be the Meanest Mom Ever, because I am. Did you know that I don't let my 8 and 10 year olds stay up until 10:30 PM on school nights watching movies? It's true! The one time I went out of town without my two older kids and they had to spend a school night at their friend's house, apparently the mother let the kids stay up late as if it was a special occasion. But in my kids' minds, that is proof that ever other mom out there lets their kids stay up at least that late every single school night.

    Let's just hope my kids don't emerge from their childhoods too scarred by my riduclously strict rules.

  5. I remember playing outside all summer at my granparents as we got older we might key word might have a snack in the afternoon of a rootbeer float. Nobody ever fed us 24/7 we didn't drink Gatorade oh wait it wasn't invented yet lol. I just don't think kids need all these things now days. We are a nation of obese people but the schools won't let you bring cake or cupcakes to share for your kids birthday. And only certain snacks are allowed. We didn't bring snacks to school unless someone was selling something for band or whatever. No gum chewing or eating in school in the old days heaven forbid we got to goutside and PLAY at recess run, chase, whatever we wanted to do. I never remember seeing very many overweight teens in my high school in the 1960's I graduated in 1970. Now I see them at the store where I work every day. I was overweight-I liked cookies a whole box after school when there was nobody there to stop me lol. No self control what can I say? It carried over still a sucker for sweets to this day.

  6. Yay--lots of bad mommies and aunties out there! It warms my heart. In a few minutes, one my kids will arrive home and pronounce "there's nothing to eat here." (the other one doesn't snack) To which I'll reply, "You know where there's really nothing to eat? Haiti. Now do your homework and quitcherbellyachin." I'll let you know how that goes.

    Seriously, though, I'm with Kathy. Recess was for playing outside, and we certainly didn't bring snacks to school. I went to Catholic school, so god forbid we chewed gum. We need to move more and eat less as a nation, and having our kids play without taking frequent snack breaks would be a great start. Maggie