For some context, here is an excerpt from a post I wrote earlier this year about another Subway trip: "Another family was at Subway and it was painful to watch and listen to. Three boys- and every bite, every choice was argued, and counseled. First the argument for 9 grain bread, then trying to get some veggies on the subs, then the argument over the drink. (OK, chocolate milk) then over the chips, "You know you have to have baked chips, you can have baked Lays or Sun Chips..." Then the kids tried this one, "Mom, can we have cookies, it says they're baked and fresh! That sounds good, right?" Mom shut them down on the cookies, "I know what you're trying to do and it won't work..." Then there was threatening over eating the sub (all three were white bread with turkey,) not just the chips and chocolate milk... Ugh.
Back to this meal:
M had her standard turkey, cheese, tomatoes and extra pickles with mayo, oh , and a bag of cheetos and a juice box. I had my sandwich with Doritos which I enjoy on occasion. I wanted lemonade, but it was diet, so I had half fruit punch and half water. We enjoyed our sandwich. M ate about 2/3rds, and about half her Cheetos. She finished her juice box and asked to try my punch. She had orange stained fingers and a tell-tale fruit-punch moustache. I couldn't hide the crime! (sarcasm, or irony?)
I was a little bemused to note that I felt self-conscious when people looked at our table at our mounds of orange "junk food." I have to admit I would have felt "better" if people had seen M with a milk and apple slices, they would have thought I was a "better mother." I imagine that the current cultural norm about good feeding and parenting would have thought that the mother from the other post, who battled over every bite, who's kids likely would not eat "healthy" foods of their own free will, is the "better" mother- the one who cares about her child's health and weight.
It's crazy. I know I am feeding my child well, I know that she ate practically 2 grilled peppers with chicken and couscous for dinner. I know she gets a great variety of foods and feels good about eating and her body, I know that she stopped when she was full, and yet... I still feel the cultural pressure to be a "good" mom, and being a "good" mom, or parenting well these days means feeding a certain way...
I have had larger moms write in and say how difficult it is to feed children well when you, the parent, are fat. I can only imagine the stares, even comments some people would feel justified to make about a fat mom feeding her child the meal that M ate. There is so much misunderstanding about feeding, so much moralizing and assumptions about body size...
Feeding well today is countercultural, it's what less than one-in-five parents actually practice. It takes guts, especially if you're not a size two. People judge, watch, compare, think they know what good feeding is. When you ask for dessert with your child's meal, what kind of reaction do you get? When you let your child eat "junk" food, do you get comments? (I too have had the "Why are you feeding her that, you're making her obese!" comments...) It's no fun, it's not right.
Hang in there. Do what you know is best for your child, and know that I too struggle with a fear of judgement. (Trying to care less, but it's a pretty crazy world we live in, isn't it?!)