Friday, January 26, 2007

The First Post to Offend: Crunchy-Granola

I am a member of Generation X, which is unique in my family. My sisters are all Baby Boomers, a generation that has its own generalizations and stereotypes. But I belong to Generation X, probably noted for a sense of entitlement, inability to save any money and a "disposable" attitude.

Generation X seems to have created its own movement in parenting, hence the birth of the Crunchy-Granola Mom.

My oldest sister has no idea what crunchy moms are. A crunchy mom when my sister was 30 would have been a rarity. Today, crunchiness is everywhere.

Crunchy-granola at its most general describes a movement to parent "naturally," or "earthy" parenting. There are many areas of parenting that can be crunch-i-fied, such as:
  • Circumcision (crunchy = no way!)
  • Home birth (crunchy = hell yeah!)
  • C-section (crunchy = only after 1,000 hours of labor!)
  • Pain-medicated birth (crunchy = you better not!)
  • Diapers/menstrual pads (crunchy = cloth!)
  • Natural Family Planning (crunchy = know your body!)
  • Breastfeeding/tandem nursing/child weans itself (crunchy = of course!)
  • Co-sleeping with baby (crunchy = move over, hubby, here comes baby!)
  • "Wearing" your baby in a sling (crunchy = how better to "attachment parent"?)
  • Organic foods/mostly vegetarian diet (crunchy = buy from your local organic grower!)
  • Modern medicine (crunchy = herbal remedies, please!)
  • Vaccinations (crunchy = turn 'em down at the pediatrician!)
  • Home school (crunchy = 1+1 equals 2, Johnny!)
  • Positive discipline (crunchy = whoever gives their child a time out deserves a spanking!)
  • TV usage (crunchy = turn it off!)
Way back when, upon my first dreams of being pregnant, Mark and I started reading parenting books. We are definitely ones to do our research, you know. Through my reading, I tentatively decided that I was going to be a water-birthing, breastfeeding, possibly co-sleeping, cloth diapering, non-circumcising, sling-wearing Mom. I would make my own baby food (not organic, but home made). And we were already practicing Natural Family Planning, so mark me as a yes in that category.

Things change.

I never gave birth (scratch out water-birthing).

Breastfeeding didn't work out (attempted, but ultimately failed).

"The family bed" was ruled out quickly when Abby's basinette was in our room, and none of us were getting any sleep (and we decided our bed was a marital bed, thank you very much).

I did cloth diaper. Abby wore cloth for about 1 year, and Ethan for about 3 months. Until I couldn't stand changing the clothing/bedding/diapers of my heavy-wetting son 10 times a day while we were trying to sell our house. And so I stopped. I chose cloth for 3 reasons: making a contribution to help the environment, keeping the disposable-diaper chemicals away from my baby's skin, and saving money (which we did ... oodles for the first year).

Ethan was circumcised, because we didn't have a choice in the matter (it was very important to the birthparents that he be circumcised). We wouldn't have chosen that. If we have the choice for a future son, however, he will be part of a matched set with Daddy and brother.

I have two slings, and they got TONS of use with my babies. I carried them a lot... but wasn't tied to that. If I wanted to put them down, I did. Even if there was crying involved.

I did make home made baby food for Abby until she was old enough for table foods. I made one batch of carrots for Ethan, and then realized that I was a mom of a very-active toddler and an infant, and I didn't have time for this stuff!

Overall, my crunchy-factor is pretty low. I like the idea of a lot of it, but sometimes convenience wins out. Also, I think my children need to be more independent than crunchy parenting promotes. And, frankly, the crunchy-granola movement is a little too intense for me. As a group, the crunchy moms are very vocal about what is the right way to birth or to parent. Maybe they're on the defensive so often that they feel the need to be so strong. Or maybe they are the forerunners of their movement and want to get a good running start. I'm not sure, but it makes me a little sad that the hippie-like moms seem so uptight.

It especially makes me sad that a perfectly awesome mom like Jennifer feels so badly because her birth experience didn't meet the crunchy standard that she feels guilty about it 2 years later. Now that's a cryin' shame.


Trish said...

If these "crunchy" moms are still around when Mike and I have kids... they will probably try to take our kids away. The only crunchiness we are for (and mostly me) is cloth diapers and thats on a purely environmental stand point. And I still plan on using disposable onesfor babysitters, days out, and those lazy moments in life.

Becky K said...

Hmm, I went through one fast birth without pain killers (sorry, to late, he's coming out NOW) and then I got a pain killer with the next one. That resulted in a slight lessening of the pain, and a lot of grogginess between contractions, and I couldn't manage to tell anyone the head was coming out (they weren't looking yet.) I can honestly not recommend either experience!! Breastfeeding was fine until I went back to work with the first one, and with the second until he got thrush and there was a lot of pain involved.

The rest? Gerber makes great baby foods, disposable is better when you're at the mall (although lousy for trying to potty train, because they don't feel wet ever). I don't like to carry around used diapers. Homeschooling? I don't think so, that's why we chose our house with the school system in mind. I will spank my child, if they deserve it, time outs are fine with me. I am definately NOT a crunchy mom and I'm perfectly okay with that!

Jennifer said...

Thank you! I love you!

P.S. What are the odds that Barb will someday be held up as the sainted forerunner in another 10 years or so? ;)

Gammers said...

Well, now I understand better upon re-reading this blog. I guess I was semi-crunchy as disposable diapers weren't invented yet so cloth was the ONLY option. Maybe that's why Moms in the 50's potty trained at one year - hmmm pondering.

Anonymous said...

I happened to stumble upon this blog and you just made my day! I commented on another forum about a crunchy mom belief and was BLASTED by all of the crunchy moms. The ones I have had contact with so far seem to believe that they have to convert everyone. They are very defensive. Maybe they aren't all this way? I'm so glad to read that someone else has had the same experience with these moms as I have. Even if I were considering moving somewhat over to the crunchy side, the aggressiveness is a huge turn off!

Anonymous said...

Didn't know I was crunchy until today. I have a three year old and a 1 year old, both natural home births and breastfed. I am proud of my new found crunchiness! I thought I was just doing what came naturally. It is sad that someone would try to force their personal parenting believes on others. I always thought it is a parents God given right to screw up their kids!

Michelle said...

I would disagree that we're all that staunch. I've run a primal mothering group for years and there is a WIDE variety of ways that we do things and we're all very accepting. A few have had c-sections by necessity. More than a few choose hospital births. Some vax; some don't; some do but later rather than sooner.

As for the needing a kid to be more independent. I'm not sure what that means. Attachment and dependency are not one and the same. In fact, attachment leads to independency while detachment leads to dependency (just read an entire medical study on this last week LOL).

Anyway-- I am complimented at least every 2-3 days on how wonderfully independent, confident, caring, nurturing or mature my kids are... and even the most conventional attribute this to my "weird lifestyle" LOL

Jellibells said...

I find it interesting how critical we all are of each other's parenting. Everything the blogger mentions here, with an insinuation that it is the trendy and therefore negative thing to do, are perfectly healthy and viable options for parenting. They are not the only options. They are not the 'right' options or the 'wrong' options. And many mothers, like myself, choose to do some of these things and not others with their children...yet we certainly don't lump into some hippie stereotype or trendiest mother on the block sort of category.

Patting yourself on the back because you don't do these things is no better than people who do these things insinuating that others who don't are inferior moms. To be honest, most people I know who do these things are a.) in the minority in most parts of this country, even as some of these ideas become more publically discussed and talked about and b.) not at all pushy about their beliefs on others.

Let's try to support mothering and mothers in general, as opposed to taking any extreme position and being critical of those who do things differently.

Jaynee said...

Hmmm, guess I was a Crunchy-mom long before the term was invented. I just heard the term today when my daughter said it was used derisively towards her for caring enough to do what is best for her kids.

I wore my kids everywhere; #1 in a front pack, #2 in a sling. I breastfed both; #1 for 2-1/2 years, #2 for 1 year. Both were child-led weanings. My kids ate when they took it off my plate; there was no 'baby food'.

That said, this is a cute blog and I see no maliciousness in it toward Crunchy-moms. It is a realistic view. I just caution others that it will not help you to feel less guilty to bash these moms, and that can be the only reason you bash them.

Glenni Lorick said...

I didn't know I was crunchy either until I was way past the early childhood years. I'm a "conservative granola mommy," but I respect each mother's judgment when it comes to her own children. I think this season of life we call motherhood is fraught with so many opportunities for guilt, that we certainly don't need to pile more guilt on any mother for loving her child in the way she thinks is best! I recently wrote a blog entitled "You're the Expert!" Each mom really IS the only expert on what is best for each of her own children!