I never thought I’d be a crunchy mom. In fact, I’ve always had a certain degree of contempt of the sort of whole grain, all-natural lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great when people are concerned with the ethics of where their food, their clothing, the products that they use every day come from and end up. I think it’s noble when people are willing to give up their cars and ride their bicycles everywhere. And, having been raised by a pair of people who loved to spend their summers working on their vegetable garden and pea patch, I also get where it can often be a lot of fun and rewarding and even money-saving to engage in a little bit of green DIY.
That being said, I also tend to think the organic and natural movements tend to be the province of people with money and a lot of times seems more like just another way to keep up with the Joneses than anything sincere. I also don’t have much patience for some of the extremely unscientific arguments behind certain parts of the natural movement or the tendency of some people in the natural movement to co-opt cultures from developing parts of the world as it pleases them, often with little understanding for the context within which the people whose cultures are being co-opted exist. In fact, these are things that really get under my skin and make me passionately rage-ful and start hunting for my soapbox.
So the idea that I’d ever be identified as “crunchy”…not so much anything that ever crossed my mind.
Once I got pregnant, though, things began to change, and for me, they changed primarily for reasons that have nothing to do with ethics or saving the world or being more closely aligned with nature. No. I started looking at how much things cost. When you suddenly find out that you can save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars, by using cloth instead of disposable diapers, or that it doesn’t make any sense to buy processed baby foods from the grocery store when they are actually really cheap and easy to make at home, suddenly the granola approach sounds pretty appealing!
From there, it was a downward spiral. I decided we should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months because formula was just too expensive, even if it would be a lot more convenient. My crunchy factor ratcheted up a notch. Because I’m breastfeeding, it only makes sense to cosleep, because I’m not getting up every 2 hours and wandering into another room to feed the baby. I will be a total zombie. That and we don’t have room in our apartment to put baby in a separate room, anyhow. The crunchy factor inched up some more.
I go to look at strollers and car seats and realize that the typical car seats that you see people carrying their babies around in everywhere are extremely heavy to carry, won’t last us as long as a convertible car seat that isn’t portable, and come with these monster strollers that I can’t easily fold or lift on my own. I know I made fun of Moby’s six months ago, but seriously? Where can I sign up? My crunchy factor went up a little more.
By the time I got to listening to Hypnobabies and writing birth plans asking not to have drugs offered to me and to have a squat bar available and if I could push on my own without instruction, I had granola coming out my ears.
I like to think I’m not completely a lost cause. After all, I still raise my eyebrow at baltic amber teething bracelets and arguments against the standard vaccination schedule. But. I’m a lot crunchier than I ever thought I would be, and I have become increasingly engaged with this green mama community that is, to my surprise, incredibly warm, welcoming and sincere. I’ve been so impressed by how willing people are to share and give advice and to help out. It’s a good place to be, and I’m happy to identify as just a little bit crunchy. I think for our family, it’s provided us a lot of money-saving ideas and more practical alternatives to the typical way of doing the whole baby thing these days.
Have any of you been surprised by how granola you’ve become since getting pregnant and becoming a parent? What is the appeal of “natural” parenting things like cloth diapers or baby wearing or natural childbirth for you?