Being what most would refer to as a parent of the 'crunchy' variety is more challenging than I ever could have imagined. It seems everyday, I learn more and more about how people can throw judgement and even scorn our way because we are doing something 'different.' It started when I was pregnant.
When I divulged my plans for a natural birth and to use cloth diapers, I was shocked at the responses I would get. People would say "Are you crazy? You'll be begging for an epidural!" or "Yea I give you a week before you go to disposables." When I saw a really good friend who was due a few weeks before my due date (who also planned on a natural birth) basically attacked at her own baby shower by family and friends, it was difficult for me to contain my outrage. What is it that would bring such aggressive criticism from women who were there to support her? Luckily I didn't have a similar experience, mine were more passive aggressive, snide comments like "good luck," or "we'll see." If I (or her) were to achieve a labor and delivery without the use of medication would that somehow take away from their birth experiences? Is having an epidural a rite of passage into true motherhood these days and if you don't have one, you're not accepted into the mommy club? I still can't figure this one out.
Fast forward to today, I am a proud mother of a beautiful daughter (who was unfortunately born via c-section after 46 hours of unmedicated labor...another blog for another day) and yes, we are still using the cloth diapers, making her food (she has yet to have a jar of any packaged baby food), eating organic and hormone/gmo-free foods whenever possible and we strive to ensure she gets the rest, stimulation and comfort she needs. The criticism continues, from hearing "that won't last" or "wait till you have the next one" to "you should just make it easier on yourself." Again, what is so threatening to other parents (moms) that they feel the need to criticize our choices? Do they feel like we are criticizing their choices by not doing as they do? If that is the case, I can honestly tell you we don't...we don't have time for that!!
The scary part is, if we were plugging our 1 year old in to the TV/DVD, feeding her cake and soda everyday and keeping her up till she passed out from utter exhaustion, we would get next to no criticism!! Since when did trying to do the best job possible raising our kids become a point of contention? I hear people say things like "they won't break," or "they'll survive," and I agree, children are resilient, some have survived horrific beginnings to go on and become decent adults who make a positive impact on our society. My point is that I did not get in to this parenting gig so I could figure out a way to make it easiest on myself, or to skate by hoping that resilience will pull her through in the end (and I'm NOT saying that other parents did or are). I did a lot of soul searching and discussing with my husband before deciding to do this; and I got in to this to put all my knowledge and experience into doing the absolute best job I can do. I don't want my child to 'survive' childhood, my hope is that she will thrive, at least in part, because of something we did as her parents.
I believe as Oprah or Maya Angelou said that 'when you know better, you do better,' so if I know (because of all the research, the AAP and countless examples in our society) that my child should not be consuming excess salt, sugar or TV at this age then why should I 'just do it' because I 'drank pop' or 'watched TV' as a kid? Isn't this whole parenting thing about correcting at least some of the mistakes our parents made because they didn't know any better? I really don't want to start an argument because you choose to do things differently than we do, but I cannot help but ask, what is it about our choices that leave so many feeling threatened or defensive?
I am doing the best I know how in raising our daughter and I will believe that most are doing the same. The beauty of our society is that for the most part we have choices and as a family you should make yours based on your own family values/beliefs. Just remember that when someone is doing something that you can't figure out why they would take the time, money or effort to do, they are doing it because they feel it is best for themselves or their family. If you don't understand and want to...ask, but try not to do it in a condescending way. We all have a lot to learn and if we choose to, we could learn from each other, but only if we approach it in a non-judgmental, receptive manner. Mommies, put down your bows and arrows, we're all doing our best.