I am a home birth mom.
Having my babies at home thrusts me into the world of crunchy motherhood – a place I never imagined I would be. Before our first child I was a gimme-the-drugs diva who thought cloth diapers and vaccination fights were for crazies. Now I’m in the middle of crunchy mom world, somewhere between moon child and manicured prepster, unwilling to give up either aspect of my mothering identity.
It’s a weird place to be.
I don’t belong anywhere. I’m dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of unmedicated birth, and will tell anyone who asks me why they should consider it. I cloth diapered with prefolds (extra points for more difficulty), used a delayed vaccination schedule, try to produce minimal waste by recycling and composting, and eat a gluten free/sugar free/Paleo diet. I used to buy kombucha at a place that had it on tap.
But I also abhor breastfeeding. I’ll do it… for the baby, and I’ll throw a party when I quit (somewhere between 6-12 months). I’ll never be completely anti-vaccination. I won’t give up my makeup for kohl eyeliner and I’ll never be wholly zero-waste. I now use both disposable and cloth diapers. I didn’t paint my placenta or do a belly cast while pregnant; I don’t soak crystals or do yoga. I really like getting manicures, dying my hair, and wearing extremely high heels.
And I’m perfectly content with this dichotomy.
The truth about crunchy motherhood is that you’ll never be crunchy enough. There’s always more to do, more to be, something better you can do for your child or yourself – and there comes a point where you have to look at it honestly and ask: Am I doing this because I believe this is best for my family, or because I feel guilty for who I am?
If the latter, here’s some freedom for you.
Someone will always be more natural than you.
I quickly realized I could never completely fit in with super crunchy mamas. We could relate over cloth diapering, home birthing, and recycling, but there a comes a point in the conversation where I can ask questions, but can no longer contribute to the narrative. At first, this made me feel guilty. But rather than blame them for my emotions, I’ve learned to be secure in the choices I’ve made, and to understand that someone will always be more natural than me.
Conversely, I will always be more “natural” than someone else, and I no longer take on the insecurities of others. If someone feels guilty for getting an epidural when I talk about my home birth, their response to my experience is their own responsibility (obviously, no one should be rude about these topics). When we are secure in our decisions, we are not threatened by the decisions of others – which is how we beat the Mommy Wars.
“Healthy” is subjective.
Secondly, “healthy” can mean almost anything in today’s world. We get the basics – exercise and good diet are key. But everywhere you turn, someone will say your workout of choice is damaging to your knees, or your meal plan isn’t optimum. I eat a high fat/low carb diet. My workout plan suggests a high carb/low fat diet. What’s with that?!
It just goes to show that “healthy” can look a thousand different ways (obviously, this does not include a sugar- and refined carb-laced diet). When we allow others to walk that journey in the same gradual way it took us to get there – though we never arrive – we’re able to show grace for the differences.
The opposite of “healthy” is not “abusive”.
This is a biggie. Because most crunchy moms educate themselves about the decisions they make – questioning their doctors, reading articles, pursuing information – we’re very passionate about what we choose. The problem comes when we see those who aren’t yet educated make the opposite choices, and label those choices with such extreme terms as “abuse” and “neglect”.
There are very real definitions for abuse and neglect. You can look in the foster care system or rural Kenya to see it. It does not look like feeding your toddler Cheez-Its or ceasing to breastfeed at five months. We’ve cheapened these words when we slap them on people who simply don’t know what we know – or, like me, do know and decide to buy Teddy Grahams anyway.
Crunchy motherhood is not one-size-fits-all.
Finally, crunchy motherhood – or the natural lifestyle in general – is not one-size-fits all. It’s not going to look the same on everybody. I might diffuse essential oils in my bedroom at night and take Tylenol for my headache the next day. I have friends who treat everything but the family dog with essential oils. I think it’s amazing, but until I get to that point, I take Tylenol.
I truly believe most families would benefit from researching the natural, crunchy lifestyle more. I think it’s beneficial to reduce waste, eat well, and hey – even have an unmedicated birth! But in the end, this isn’t a salvation issue. It’s at best a stewardship issue, and even that will be diverse.
So don’t be scared of the crunchy mamas. And don’t be guilty if you’re soggy like me. Make educated choices. Embrace them.
Then head out with your kombucha and high heels.