school

To the mum overfilling her kid's lunchbox because she grew up poor: You're not alone.

Another school term, another lunchbox photo going viral – except this one was a little different.

In a Facebook group, an Aussie mum proudly posted a pic of delicious, nutritionally-balanced, and full lunchboxes for her kids, and as these things usually go, a lot of people felt compelled to comment/lunchbox shame.

The accusation, this time, was that the mum was over-feeding her kids.

The lunchbox tip your kids will love. Post continues after video. 

Video by Mamamia

The woman responded, explaining her kids like variety, just as she does, and they get hungry at school. But no one was satisfied.

When do they get time to play?

My kids would never eat that much!

I bet they waste most of it.

Clearly not accepting that it was an argument against the Karens of the world that she would never win, the mum further explained what she was doing for her four children.

“I do this to ensure they don’t get hungry,” she wrote on her post.

“I was starved. I was lucky to get even three food items when I was a kid.”

It was something I could totally relate to, but not in the way you might think. I was never starving. But my dad was.

Holly Wainwright and Jo Abi discuss lunchbox politics on This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.

You see, my beloved dad, who passed away a few years ago, was born in Fiji into dire poverty. The only lightbulb in his village was in front of the church, and that’s where he would do his homework at night (after a full day of school – which was always preceded by 5am roadside vegetable-selling).

My dad’s father was not brilliant at coping with life, and so it fell to my dad to ensure his four siblings and his mum were looked after. As a boy, and then a young man, he did his best at that, but selling vegetables didn’t cover everything; he, and his family, were still starving most of the time.

ADVERTISEMENT

When dad won a scholarship to attend medical school in India, still, he starved, drinking two glasses of water before and after any meagre meal in an attempt to fill his stomach.

It wasn’t until he was told, around 20, that his scholarship covered campus food, that my dad could finally experience what it meant to be sated. The first thing he did when he found out about the campus food was devour 12 eggs, before someone could tell him they were wrong about the food being free.

When my parents came to Australia and started earning money, my father was like a kid in a candy store. Food was so plentiful here, and what’s more – he could afford anything he wanted.

It was, quite literally, a whole new world, and he couldn’t get enough of it.

So naturally, as a family, we grew up celebrating everything with food. From the finest of dining to my mum’s amazing, authentic cooking to Hungry Jack’s; we had it all, regularly. Over-eating rich foods was normal.

I remember how dad would often sit there, peeling raw prawns for me because I was too precious to do it myself (so gross), just so I was happy.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but I see now it was an absolute joy for dad to know he could feed his family well, and we didn’t have to suffer as he did.

But it wasn’t just his kids he spoilt; my parents would regularly throw dinner parties for 50 people, over-catered, with enough to feed 500. It wasn’t showing off; it was a way my dad showed love because of his experience.

ADVERTISEMENT

As a parent now, I know exactly what my dad was doing, and I love him for it. This is why I can absolutely understand how the mum accused of over-filling her children’s lunchboxes is simply doing what she thinks is best for her kids – and what she, like any other parent – thinks they deserve.

My dad, front row, feeding 750 people on a typical night out. Image: Supplied.

Admittedly, over-eating was a mentality that I struggled to break when I got older - for years I could never identify when I was full. But knowing why that happened, I can barely blame my dad.

My father was also unable to break his old habits. One day, he saw my sister making 2-minute noodles for herself, and starting to pour the flavoured water down the sink. He stopped her, telling her it was like soup, and he drank it.

For people traumatised in their childhoods, the memory never goes away. My dad worked incredibly hard, and was lucky enough to be able to approach food the way he did when he moved to Australia.

The proud mum with the full lunchboxes – maybe she had to make a lot of sacrifices to fill them like that. Or didn’t. We don’t know – and that’s the point.

Maybe some of the naysayers had similar childhoods, but couldn’t afford to give their kids full lunchboxes. Obviously, not everyone can.

What we do know is that everyone parents with a past; and are just doing the best they can despite it.

Feature Image: Supplied / Getty

00:00 / ???