True Parent 5
I guess my first clue I would fail at this “crunchy mom” thing was when the midwife asked what I wanted to do with the placenta. I’d just spent 12 hours grunting out a ten-pound baby, prone on a table with my feet in stirrups and a fetal monitor strapped to my midsection—so naturally I wanted to drink a delicious placenta-kale smoothie. Just kidding, I told her to throw it in the garbage. (I didn’t even take it home to bury it under an oak tree or turn it into pills! Worst Hippie Ever.)
I started off with the best of intentions, I swear! I co-slept, baby-wore, and nursed on demand. I even turned my leftover milk into homemade soap! But somewhere along the way, things veered off course. After the oxytocin-addled, postpartum euphoria wore off, I joined a local green mama message board, and suddenly, everything I was doing was completely wrong. Next to these enlightened mamas, I was basically Sarah Palin.
First off, I missed the boat on Elimination Communication. Silly me thought cloth diapers were the best choice, and that I could wait a couple years before potty training (not too early, mind you, lest the pressure hurt his self-esteem). However, I was told by the übercrunchies that my methods were waaaaay off. Obviously I was supposed to carry my baby around without a diaper and stare intently at his face, waiting for his eyes to cross and bulge—the telltale shit-grin—before ushering him over the toilet (or better yet, a hole in the ground).
My next earth-mama failure came at around five months. When our son got too big for us to all fit in our meager queen-sized bed, I put him in his crib. Sure, he had an organic coconut fiber mattress—but a real crunchy mom would’ve purchased a king-sized bed to accommodate our growing child! [Insert forehead slap here.] I ended up telling everyone on the green mama forums I was “too concerned about the state of landfills” to buy a new bed. But between you and me? I was secretly delighted to have my own bed back and not nurse him every ninety minutes. And if I can be really honest, I’m sorry, but my husband and I are too damn old to be having sex on the couch.
However, even the message board moms had to grudgingly agree I totally nailed the baby food thing. I grew organic veggies, and made purées and mashes with sweet potatoes and lentils, adding bold flavors like curry and ginger to develop our son’s palate. But shhhh! I also let him eat sugar sometimes, because you know what? There’s nothing cuter than seeing a baby smeared in frosting on his first birthday. Admittedly, when that frosting comes on a lurid red velvet cupcake, your infant looks like he’s slathered in raw liver—but it’s all part of the fun, right?
And I regularly took him out for nature walks and stuff. That’s totally crunchy! Oh, wait.
(I didn’t tell the green mama forums about that one.)
Okay, fine. So I guess it turns out I’m pretty terrible at crunchy momming—but I’ll still keep trying, even if that just means that sometimes my kid eats the organic versions of Spaghettios and Cocoa Krispies instead of the real (delicious, perfect) thing.
I guess I’d rather be damned if I do than damned if I don’t.
Heather Arndt Anderson is a culinary historian and food writer based in Portland, Oregon. She’s the author of Portland: A Food Biography.