I’m not sure when, exactly, I made the decision to be a crunchy mom, but I know it was long before I ever actually had a child. Only the person I was before motherhood could have made such an idealistic, unrealistic decision. I know better now.
But the allure of crunchiness — you know, mommy and me yoga classes, everything smelling like lavender oil, artisan toys crafted from centuries-old Scandinavian oaks — was undeniable at the time.
How could I resist? It was like all of my childhood dreams of being a pioneer could suddenly be realized. I could be Ma Ingalls in real life, except with homemade, organic hemp seed granola bars instead of fried salt pork. I’d be like a healthy Ma Ingalls who could bust out a kick-ass standing bow while wearing hand-sewn calico. I was going to be an earth mother. I was going to rule the world.
But then my baby was born and the previously thriving organic garden I’d planted quickly withered away. Honestly, I was so sleep-deprived that I kind of forgot it was there. My dreams of raising chickens in the backyard vanished just as quickly as my seedlings when I realized that if a rooster even dared to make a peep at dawn to wake me up, or God forbid wake the baby up, that I would gladly choke it death with more bloodthirsty zeal than a voodoo priestess.
Things continued to unravel quite literally when I attempted baby-wearing. It took me about 13 tries to wrap myself in 20 feet of beige fabric. I ended up looking like one of the Sand People of Tatooine. Amateur that I was, I’d wrapped myself too tightly to jam the baby in between the layers of fabric. Three tries later, I tied the baby to my chest, she screamed, and I sold the wrap at a consignment store. But I still hadn’t given up on my crunchy mom dreams yet, oh no.
If there was one aspect of this lifestyle that we unexpectedly excelled at, it was co-sleeping. It happened once my daughter reached toddlerhood, stemming mostly from an inability to get her to sleep in her big girl bed and then just giving up entirely because she always somehow ended up in our bed anyway. So yeah, some people might think I’m spoiling my daughter, letting her make all the decisions, but I say no way. We are co-sleeping. It is a thing.
I failed at pretty much everything else though. I gagged on chia seeds, and now understand why kale is pretty much the most hated food on earth. My kid will probably need a 12-step program for her sugary fruit snack habit, but I keep buying them anyway. I love my television and I mess with my phone at the park.
My daughter exclusively wears clothing with her favorite princesses on it because she is overexposed to media and pop-culture and I have lost the strength to care. Actually, I love all those politically incorrect princess movies that end with the heroines getting married. I cry every time I watch one and I have seen them all at least 750 times. My daughter’s iPad is the miracle that allows me to cook dinner each night and no, most of the time the food isn’t organic.
For a long time, I felt like a big old failure because I didn’t have the stamina to be a crunchy mom. It was too hard and I was too tired and the conveniences and distractions of modern life proved too tempting. It’s a lot easier to just buy some yogurt than it is to culture my own from the milk of my non-existent pet goat. My neighbors really wouldn’t appreciate me keeping livestock in my yard anyway.
Who was I kidding? I would’ve made a terrible pioneer mother. My entire family would’ve died of dysentery. This had saddened me until I realized that it was really okay to just be myself. I didn’t need to conform to some specific template of the perfect mommy.
I guess I felt like being a crunchy mom would somehow make me a better mom, but that only would have worked if I were being true to myself, and I wasn’t. Instead, I’d viewed motherhood sort of like the high school cafeteria — a place where you have to pick a certain identity. Some women really can keep their Birkenstocks clean while milking a goat and simultaneously baby-wearing, and they are amazing for that, but that’s not me. And it’s not a gigantic personal failure when I binge-watch a series on Netflix, push a child in a stroller, or let her eat conventional produce. (At least she is eating produce at all, I say.)
I still love a healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle. Yoga is a big part of my life … but so are nachos. I’ve found the balance that works for me. I took the parts of being a crunchy mom that I could manage and left the rest that I couldn’t. I eased up on myself and my family is a lot happier because of it.More On