Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Take A Step Back

Mom, what's in your bag there? I sighed as I could see into my mom's purse. No wallet or lipstick there.

What? I could see her pulling her innocent face.

What is in the bag that you're opening up right now? By now I could see that the only thing in her purse was food.

Just a couple of pretzels and some grapes, why? She started to reach inside to offer them to the wee ones, who had just eaten lunch not twenty minutes before.

Put them away, Mom, I cringed some, knowing that this was going to not be fun.

What? They're just some healthy snacks. Wee ones, don't you want some yummy grapes?

Mom, please put them away. They just ate. The smile was falling from my face.

What? Grapes are healthy. Wee ones, your mommy doesn't want you to eat these nice healthy grapes. Don't you want some yummy juicy grapes? My mom dangled the aforementioned grapes in front of Little Miss's face.

Mom. Put. Them. Away. I could feel myself starting to growl.

We'd had this conversation over and over again, but it was always the same. My mom has an odd compunction to feed people, constantly. She is always giving the wee ones snacks of all kinds, albeit relatively healthy snacks. It didn't matter if the wee ones were hungry or not, my mom would offer them food. It got to the point that they entered my parents car and started to reach for food like Pavlov's overstuffed dog.

The odd part of this is the my mom doesn't even like food. She doesn't eat much, and she's always been thin as a rail. However, she's also always pushed food on me and the wee ones. It took a long time for me to recognize what hunger actually meant and to be able to listen to my body.

I remember being a kid and ordering three cheeseburgers from McDonalds, plus fries and a strawberry shake. The thought of eating that much food now makes me sick to my stomach, but somehow my parents never thought that they should possibly reign this in. I'm lucky that I was never heavier as a child than what I was, although I was never a string bean.

I refuse to have my children fall prey to the same challenge. When they're hungry, they can ask for food, and I am happy to give it to them. When I sense that Mister Man's blood sugar is getting low and his moods are getting wonky, I'll have him sit down and eat an orange or something along those lines. A snack every time we take a break in the day? Not so much.

What's wrong with a little snack?

Mom, they just ate lunch. If they're hungry, they can ask for a snack, but trust me, they're fine. Put away the food. They don't need it.

Why are you being this way?

Mom, you seem to have forgotten whose children they are. They're my children, not yours. Uh-oh, I'm on a roll now, and I was just hoping that no more came out than I intended and that I wouldn't regret this. I've been pushing this conversation off for a long time, silencing the irritation I felt every time my mom did something that ran counter to how I was raising my children, counter to the requests that I'd made of my parents. They don't need food, they don't need you to shove food in their face every time they see you. It isn't healthy for them. They need to learn to listen to when their tummies are telling them they're hungry. Until you hear it from them, close the bag, and put the food away.

There was stunned silence in the car. My dad took me to task for the tone I used, but at that point, I was done. I'd requested nicely time after time, and no one was listening. With the amount of time my parents spend with the wee ones, it was an issue and not the typical different rules when Grandma and Grandpa see their grandchildren.

See, I'm not always a very nice person, am I? And here you thought I was just full of sweetness and light!


Anonymous March 3, 2010 at 8:13 PM  

Wow. What a difficult conversation to have. I don't think you were not nice, I think you were brave.

Upstatemomof3 March 3, 2010 at 9:40 PM  

Oh there is so much going on here. First the food thing. I try so hard to teach my kids not to eat unless they are hungry. We rarely do snacks at my house - if they ask they can have fruit but I never sit them down for snack time. I want my kids to have healthy eating habits!

As for the power struggle - I go through this with my ILs. A lot!! I cannot tell you how many times i have mumbled under my breath that if they want to have a child they should have one and they should leave mine alone. I am sorry you had to go through this it stinks!! Hopefully, it is over now.

Connie March 3, 2010 at 9:50 PM  

I can honestly say that my parents have never over stepped their boundaries with my children. There may have been one or two times when I felt my Dad was a little too harsh but that's all. I hope I'm the type of in-law or grandmother that knows how to keep her distance and still love her family.
That was a brave conversation. It will be interesting to see how things work out the next time.

Jenn M March 3, 2010 at 10:21 PM  

See I have that same conversation about every 3 weeks with my MIL. Albeit in Italian so my translations could be off. Basically what you shall expect is now sneaking of food. Your mother will sneak your kids food when you go away, go to the bathroom, walk to the basement etc etc. My hubby is Italian so lunch is pasta and porpette (meatballs) and then the ice cream and then and then. I made the mistake last week to ask if they could stay while I went to Walmart. Came back pretty quick to see popcorn and chocolate. Again same conversation, again same "who me" look.. GRR.

Good luck. I hope it works better for you then me.. :)

Alexis AKA MOM March 3, 2010 at 11:01 PM  

LOL my mom and your mom are so the same!!! It's ok not to be so sweet all the time :).

You crack me up girlie!

Laura March 4, 2010 at 2:52 AM  

you horrid daughter!!

NOT-my mil is always forcing food on my kids luckily we have never given them food issues so when they are done they are done. But then she turns on us which is hard to ignore because I have my own issues and compulsion is one of them. Especially on food I don't usually eat I get a bit nutty.

I'm learning to take cues from them and just say no!

Karen March 4, 2010 at 7:07 AM  

I'm sorry. It's hard having to ask your own parent to stand down in regards to your children. Been there and done that. But it needed done. You've got my sympathy AND my support.

Tara R. March 4, 2010 at 7:18 AM  

I never wanted to have that 'these aren't your children' talk with my mom either. But, sometimes it just has to be done.

Debbie March 4, 2010 at 8:39 AM  

You are sweetness and light! You also have to be the mom. It is hard to stand up to our parents - no matter what our age.

Pat March 4, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

It's probably not the right time to mention this, but did you check out my Green Eggs and Ham post/recipe? It's at

That must be so frustrating to you when grandma continues to offer unsolicited food against your wishes.

Dan March 4, 2010 at 11:36 AM  

Grand parent spoilage comes in an infinite number of forms. I've found that equilibrium has come with time and age. (And yes, grandma remains a soft touch for the Son. But he has become more responsible with time about using that touch.)

Regina March 4, 2010 at 6:48 PM  

Good for you. You should be able to set rules and your parents respect and support them - or at least spoil them rotten when you aren't right there in the same room / car!

Nicely dealt with- sometimes being a parent is not about being NICE.

septembermom March 4, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you think as a mom. I know it must have been tough to call your mom out on this issue.

Sherry March 5, 2010 at 7:03 AM  

You definitely have to stand up for how you want to teach your children. :D

I know with my MIL, I had my husband talk to her about some issues as I felt it was better if it came from him and not me.

Anonymous March 5, 2010 at 10:55 PM  

What a crappy situation to be in! I am very thankful that my parents are very mindful of the ways in which I have chosen to raise my children (most of the time anyway.) My in-laws, on the other hand, are a bit out-of-control, and I fear that the day I fly off the handle isn't too far off.

And I am glad you posted this. I have really been struggling lately with the eating/snacking/when is it okay and when is it not okay issue lately. Cooper and Maren would eat all day long if I let them - whether they are truly hungry or not. The are both scrawny as all get-out, but I don't think that will last forever, and I don't want to set them up to be overweight as they get older.

Unknown Mami March 6, 2010 at 1:04 PM  

Oh, you're nice and polite! I was getting irritated just reading this and I would have been rude, which would have accomplished nothing. You did good. It's probably not the end of it though.

Mrs4444 March 7, 2010 at 8:11 PM  

It seems to me that your mom equates food with love. Maybe you could give her some other ideas to show affection/love. Or is it just that she's deliberately trying to piss you off? I like the way you handled it; she needed to hear it.

Michelle March 7, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

Shelly - Thank you for the validation. My parents raised me to hate confrontation... and they don't deal with it well. Healthy dialogue? Ha :)

Upstatemomof3 - Amen amen on the snacks and food! But my mom unfortunately doesn't get that.

Connie - You're really lucky! That's the type of grandma that I hope to be, as well. It'll be hard though, I'm sure.

Jenn - Every 3 weeks? Yikes! Maybe I should be counting my blessings instead.

Alexis - It really is good to know that I'm not in this alone. Although it's kind of sad that so many people are having issues.

Laura - That's great that your kids can say no and be done. It gives me hope... although our big challenge is that my parents are around so much, they can have a much bigger impact.

Karen - Thanks. And I hope that it worked out for you when you had to do it, too.

Tara - Ooooo it sounds like this is a far more common discussion than I had thought.

Debbie - Awww, I knew I loved you for a reason!

Pat - Ohhhh there's lots of unsolicited grandma stuff. Most of it I can ignore fortunately.

Dan - Personal responsibility is even better. It's probably a lot to ask of a 6 year old though!

Regina - Should being the operative word. Unfortunately, life doesn't operate by shoulds as much as I'd like it to ;)

Kelly - I appreciate your support, but truly I probably could have been nicer.

Sherry - Yeah, there are some IL issues that I have my husband talk to them about... I get that. They try to be a bit more accomodating at least.

Nichole - The constant snacking is hard and skinny doesn't mean healthy. It's something that every parent and every child has to figure out on their own. Good luck!

Unknown Mami - You have low standards. But I like it!

Michelle March 7, 2010 at 8:24 PM  

Mrs4444 - Ummm some of it is food = love. She also overpraises with generic praise (everything is always "THE BEST") and lets limits go. Whee :)

bettyl March 7, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

I hear you and I certainly agree. I imagine that Granny really doesn't mean any harm, but it's still not acceptable.

The stepkids think that they are hungry if they see food and I have to be the 'evil stepmum' and deny them sometimes.

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom March 8, 2010 at 3:11 PM  

My mom disciplines my 3 year old, when I'm THERE and doing it myself - not only does that in and of itself drive me nuts, but we have totally different philosophies about mom reads my blog, so for now I have no outlet. Good for you sticking up for yourself! I hope when my kids are older that I can respect that they have become adults.

Michelle March 8, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

Betty - No, she doesn't mean any harm. But she's a control freak crossed with a martyr crossed with a grandma. It's a fun one :) And I have a feeling I'll be crossing into your camp when I'm a grandma in 30 years ;)

Steph - Ohhh that's fun. At least there's no real concern on discipline. Three or four adults at once telling the poor kids what to do sometimes, but not disciplining fortunately. If you need an outlet, you know where my email is!

Melisa with one S March 16, 2010 at 6:20 AM  

Sometimes it's really hard for a parent to see their kid as a fully-functioning adult. Tough conversation: good for you for having it!

Michelle March 24, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

Melisa - Fully functioning? Awww gee, thanks! You say the nicest things. :)

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