When Moms Get Criticized

KIWI, Parenting | February 7, 2011
KIWI

From KIWI’s February/March issue.

My daughter cooed at the faces on the boxes in the cereal aisle as her big brother and I stocked up on applesauce cups and mini carrots for his lunch box. As we made our way through frozen foods, another shopper’s gaze caught my own. My daughter flashed a toothless smile, and I waited for the requisite “Oh, how cute”—but it never came.

“Fat baby,” the woman declared before throwing a couple of boxes of waffles into her cart.

The knife to my heart was followed by the voice of my son, then 4, saying: “Mommy, I thought fat’s not a nice word. Why’d she say that?” Another stab, and we hadn’t even made it to the ice cream. All I could manage was, “You’re right, honey. Fat isn’t a nice word.” But I said it very loudly, wanting the waffle witch to hear me. She was long gone, though, no doubt conducting impromptu weigh-ins in the baby food aisle.

Ever since I brought Miriam home, people have been commenting on her size. It started with the cute: “What a Buddha baby!” Moved on to the silly: “You storing nuts in those cheeks?” And then headed toward the mean: “Careful you don’t throw your back out with that one.”

At first I tried to ignore it. But after several dozen “What do you feed her?”s, it’s my patience that has grown thin. Every “She doesn’t look like she needs to eat” when I hand her a snack makes me want to scream. My baby is round and soft and her thighs are perfectly plump and delicious, but the f-word? How dare they!

My anger is not simply my motherly instinct to roar at anyone who suggests that my children are less than perfect. My reaction is also strongly connected to my own feelings about such a (pun intended) heavily loaded word. I have spent years—decades—bemoaning those 10 extra pounds and the shape of my thighs. I have asked more times than I can count if this (fill in the blank: pair of jeans, bathing suit, cocktail dress, ski hat) makes me look fat.

Find out what Beth took away from this experience by purchasing KIWI’s digital edition.

Talk About It

How does it feel when others judge you and your kids?

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