Mommy and the inadequate lunch

Last week it was implied by my daughter’s lunch monitors that I am an inadequate mother. That morning, I left the house before anyone else woke up, so I didn’t have the chance to ask Her Royal Highness Rosalia what she wanted me to pack for her lunch. This has become quite the issue at home, and despite choosing what goes in most days, she ends up eating like a bird and half of it comes back intact. Knowing my daughter’s preferences, I CONSCIOUSLY packed her a variety of small portions, which I judged to be balanced and complete when combined. You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? I left the house at 6:40am that day, and only returned after 6pm, at which point I was greeted by a fuming Rosalia, hand on hip, attitude at full speed: “MOMMY WHY DIDN’T YOU PACK ME A LUNCH TODAY?”

Confused, I asked her if she had forgotten her lunch box. My mother, who I am lucky enough to have around for help, informed me that Rosalia did, in fact, bring her lunch box, but because I had forgotten to pack a sandwich, the lunch monitor lent her $3 to buy one at the school cafeteria, so I now owe them money. Wait a minute. What? I didn’t FORGET to pack a sandwich. I packed carrots and hummus and cheddar cheese, grapes, and 2 snacks… ALL OF WHICH WERE STILL IN HER LUNCH BOX. All she ate was the $3 sandwich that someone other than her mother decided would be a better choice. At this point Rosalia interjects, hands still on her hips, eyes still squinting with attitude… “ya mommy you only put me snacks!” I saw black.

wheat bread sandwich
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

My mother didn’t understand my fury. After all, she is an Italian nonna and she likes anyone who feeds the people she loves. There are few things more important in my mother’s world than having a full stomach. But that isn’t the point. The point is that if my daughter had eaten what I packed for her, her tummy would have been full. I didn’t want it to be full of a big bun and cold meat that day. If I did, I would have packed the carbs and nitrates for her myself. Who are they to judge that what I packed was inadequate? So much so that it was returned to me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! A week has passed and my blood is starting to boil again now as I write about it.

What if my daughter had dietary restrictions? What if she couldn’t have eaten that sandwich because she was gluten intolerant, or vegetarian, or what if I didn’t have $3 to pay them back? Ok, that’s being a bit petty, but anyone who knows me knows that I am petty AF. On a more serious note, what message did that send to my daughter? She already thinks that she is better than me. I am trying hard to find a balance between encouraging her to be involved in and having some control over her choices, but also just doing what is imposed on her when it’s necessary, because, well, authority. The lunch monitor’s judgment undid that. The message is, if you don’t like your lunch, don’t worry… choose whatever else you like better and we’ll make mommy pay for it. Fort. Très fort.

I was going to send in a letter the next day with the $3 that I now owed, but it wouldn’t have been a pretty one. I decided to let me blood cool enough to compose something without profanities, but then too many days passed and I decided to let it go. Every day I pack her lunch, though, I am reminded that it will be judged. And my daughter will be judged, but ultimately, I am the one who will be judged, because that’s what people do – judge mothers and their ability to raise their offspring based on one isolated incident.

Oh, talking about judging other mothers, I posted about this on a mommy group. I felt like I needed some validation since wasn’t getting any from my mother or my best friend who answered me, “ya, you should have packed her some sopressata or capicollo!” Most of the online mommies were on my side, but one mother actually said that it would have been a better idea to pack a pogo. A pogo. I totally judged her.

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