PARENTS

Packed Lunches And Parents

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Lunch boxes

I'm an opinion writer, among other things. I have opinions, and I write about them. You don't have to agree with me. I don't have to agree with you.

A few days ago I wrote an article for Parentdish about bento lunchboxes. A friend had posted a link to Grace Hall's blog, Eats Amazing, and it attracted a fair bit of snarky grumbling from my Facebook friends. I thought our reaction was interesting, so I wrote about it.

But I didn't realise that I was breaking some sort of internet code by not being completely 100% supportive of another person's lunchbox habits.

I honestly didn't think Grace would care what I think about how she makes packed lunches, after it had been heavily featured in the Daily Mail and on Buzzfeed, where it had attracted far worse comments than mine.

But if she was upset by my opinion piece, I'm sorry for that.

The article itself was meant to poke fun a little; to read as a quizzical look at why a parent would want to do this with a lunchbox, along with an acknowledgement of my own failings.

When I said "There's a judgemental part of me inside that's screaming "Get. A. Job.", it was supposed to be a reflection on me as much as it was on Eats Amazing.

There's a large part of me that knows I shouldn't have felt like this. I admire women who run their own businesses while being full-time parents. I know it's not easy. I acknowledge my many, many failings. I even have a sense of humour about most of them. I was just trying to be honest about my emotional reaction.

Parentdish offers a platform for many different and contrasting points of view about being a parent. We're not all the same. We're all doing our best – Grace is doing her best, and I'm doing my best.

But parenting isn't all about slapping each other on the back all the time. Parenting includes feeling inadequate when faced with portrayals of parenting perfection. It includes feeling judgemental about other parents. Why should we sweep these things under the carpet? Do we really all have to be endlessly supportive of each other's choices, all the time?

I'd also like to gently point out to Grace and her followers the irony of accusing somebody of 'cyber-bullying' and then copying them in to hundreds of unsolicited tweets day and night, many of them unpleasant, a few threatening. The witch-hunt was so overwhelming, I was advised to remove my address from my website. I was contacted by a number of people who said they agreed with me, but they didn't dare say so in case the angry mob turned on them too.

Let's not forget, I wrote an article about packed lunches. As someone said: "It's as if you went round to their houses and weed in their slippers."

When Parentdish realised Grace was upset by it, they wrote to her, apologised, and she was offered a right to reply, which she first accepted, and then refused. That's entirely her choice.

The article was intended to provoke debate – which it did. I also knew full well that it would add to the excellent publicity for Eats Amazing, which it certainly has. I didn't expect everyone to agree with me. Do you expect everyone to agree with you?

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