(As a refresher, you might want to quickly scan my most recent post on this topic, in which I blew up at my aunt for three+ years of undermining me and my parenting decisions.)
My mother's 60th birthday party was on Saturday. The party was held at my grandma's. When my mom comes into town, she stays with Undermining Aunt, because I don't yet have a pull-out sofa for her to sleep on.
On Saturday morning she arrived early, so I could go for a run before we picked up my sister at the airport. When I got back home, I gave the kids baths. My mom was downstairs getting the twins ready. I was bathing Isabella, when we had the following conversation.
"Grammie gave me a really yummy treat while you were gone."
"That's nice, honey. What was it?"
"It was these little balls. They were all different colors-red, green, blue. They tasted like chocolate. I think it was cereal."
I was livid. Because despite the fact that my family has known for the past 3.5 years about the food choices I make for Isabella (and now for the twins), they continue to give me a great, big, giant F-You at every opportunity, by giving Isabella and sometimes L&N things behind my back of which I do not approve.
As many of you who read here regularly know, I feed my kids mainly organic foods. We don't do dessert except for special occasions. We limit food dyes as much as possible, we choose real over processed. We do very little traditionally defined "kids food." They drink milk and water as beverages 99% of the time. None of this is ambiguous. None of this is a secret.
My family knows this and they don't care, choosing instead to sneak Isabella sweets and other crap food behind my back because they feel I am "denying my children their childhoods" by trying to do something crazy like keep their bodies healthy and their teeth from falling out.
I went downstairs and began to prepare a snack for the babies. I calmly asked my mom if she had given Isabella a snack while I was running. She said no. I then said, "Really?" and she said, "Oh, I gave her a rice cake." I said, "Is that all?" She said yes.
Then I told her about the mysterious and colorful "cereal" that Isabella had mentioned in the bathtub.
"Oh, that was from (Undermining Aunt). It's organic! And gluten-free! (She clearly thought using these buzz words would garner my approval). I don't know what it is, but it was a free sample she got in the mail."
And I asked her why she had lied and said she didn't give her anything, and why she then gave her this Fruity Pebbles-sounding snack that apparently even she couldn't identify without telling me, and then lying to cover it up.
Big exasperated and angry sigh from mamacita. "Because I knew you wouldn't approve."
Then why the HELL would you do it?
I didn't say this to her, however. Instead, I very calmly and firmly told her to please stop giving Isabella foods of which she knows I will not approve. To please stop sneaking her "forbidden" foods behind my back. To stop undermining my role as a mother.
She got angry. Told me that we needed to have this conversation later. Said that is was over and done and that she wouldn't do it again. She did not want to talk about it. But she was clearly pissed at me for catching her in a lie, and for denying her what she believes is her god-given right to do with her grandchildren as she sees fit without regard for the way their parents are choosing to raise them.
Two hours later, I was putting the kids down for their naps. My mom put Luci in for her nap. I put Nico down for his. I went into Isabella's room and tucked her in and came downstairs. I heard my mom go into Isabella's room after closing Luci's door. Several minutes later, after my mom had come back downstairs, Isabella was calling me, something she does often during "naptime" to request water, a bathroom trip, or to get out of her room. I went up, opened her door, and saw her sitting up in bed eating something. I asked what she had, and she said that my mom had brought her crackers to eat, again, brought over from Undermining Aunt's house.
It had happened again, not two hours later, after she had told me she would stop sneaking Isabella food.
And this time, I was done. I had had it.
I went downstairs and we had it out. I asked her why she chose to again slip Isabella food behind my back (she had no real answer). I told her that she was sending horribly damaging messages to Isabella that it's okay to hide things from her parents and that she doesn't need to follow her parents' rules. That it's okay to disrespect her parents' authority because another adult, and one that she loves very much, says it's okay. That she was undermining everything about the way I'm raising Isabella to try and make good nutritional choices. This wasn't about the crackers. This was about her flagrantly lying to me not even two hours after she told me she wouldn't do it again.
She told me I was "damaging my kids" by restricting their foods. That "she is their grandmother" and has rights too. And that I should just send her an email instead of discussing this with her in person. She was pissed at me for having been caught again. I told her that trying to hide things from me was pointless, because Isabella always tells me everything anyway.
I finished by telling her the same things I've been telling her for almost four years now. She doesn't have to like my decisions. Doesn't even have to respect them. But she does have to abide by them and not undermine them.
And then she left. And when the kids woke up, I packed them up and went to my grandma's house for my mom's party.
Um, happy birthday?
There is a small part of me that just wants to give this up when my kids are around their relatives. To just let my family do whatever they want with my kids, feed them piles of crap food, sneak them treats every time they visit. My family has done a lot for me and for the kids, and they absolutely adore them (perhaps a little too much).
And yet I can't, because acquiescing is not in my blood. It's not how I'm wired. I don't compromise my beliefs. I hold these beliefs, after all, for a very good reason. And what good is having standards and principles if you compromise them when challenged?
But I am at a complete loss here. Nothing I seem to say or do to hammer home the point that the undermining must end seems to work. My grandma, Undermining Aunt, and my mom have this incredible sense of entitlement where my children are concerned. In their eyes, I am doing a horrible job raising them (this, mind you, they infer in practically the same breath with which they tell what a special, well-mannered, sensitive, and intelligent daughter I have..,which clearly has nothing at all to do with me) and believe it is up to them to "save" my children from a life of deprivation.
Any and all suggestions are appreciated because seriously, I am up against it here, and much as I love them for the close relationship we all have, I am about one more incident away from packing up my kids and the hubs and moving out of driving distance.
Of course, the weekend's happenings were not without humor. Undermining Aunt has been chomping at the bit to have me drop off Isabella at her house for the day. (As if.) This topic comes up time and time again, and now my mom is even in on the crusade, bringing it up this weekend, and then asking me, "Do you have any concerns about this?" (quite obviously in response to the fact that I haven't taken Isabella over to Undermining Aunt's house yet). Not wanting to get into it, I said no.
But of course, it will be a cold day in hell before this happens.
Because in addition to being a complainer, I am also a giver, I will leave you with this recommendation for a blog you should be reading.
Check out Spoonfed, which is written by my new friend, Chris. If you're at all interested in helping your kids to make smart choices about food, damaging them beyond measure, or denying them their childhoods by reserving sweets for special occasions (as I am), I think you'll like it.