It has been more wittily than charitably said that hell is paved with good intentions; they have their place in heaven also. ~ Robert Southey
There are lots of different kinds of parents. There are hipster parents, who dress their kids in quirky, expensive clothes, talk to them like they’re little adults, and read to them from the latest graphic novels. There are yuppie parents, who have their babies enrolled in an exclusive preschool by the second trimester, walk around town pushing Bugaboo strollers, and blame the nanny whenever their kids misbehave. There are crunchy parents, who never give their babies one drop of formula, make homemade quinoa teething biscuits, and carry their babies in a sling 18 hours a day. And every type of parent in between.
I started out intending to be the crunchiest of crunchy mommies. My child would never be exposed to any toxic chemicals, because I would feed him only organic produce and antibiotic-free meat, I would dress him in organic cottons dyed with vegetable dyes, and I would keep my house sparkling clean using only vinegar and lemon juice. I would carry him in a sling all day long, so that we formed a strong and healthy attachment. I would make all his baby food out of things like açai and kale (once I figured out what those were) to create healthy eating habits from an early age.
Unfortunately, things have not entirely worked out that way. I’ve had to make compromises, and sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) I’ve gotten lazy. Apparently, having a baby doesn’t actually cause you to have a complete personality overhaul, it just causes you to be sleep deprived and less rational than usual. Who knew?
So, being the academic at heart that I am, I thought I’d give myself a little Crunchy Mommy Test of my very own devising (and scoring, so it’s possible that it won’t be entirely objective) to see just where I stand on the spectrum of crunchy mommyhood.
1. Do I feed my little Sausage actual sausages?
No. I feed him chicken and pork leftover from our dinners. This is actual meat, not ground up or processed. It’s not usually antibiotic-free or free-range, though, because we just can’t afford to exclusively buy that kind of meat. We’re working on eating less meat, so that we can afford to buy the better stuff, but for now it’s usually conventional meats.
Crunch Score: 65 (D — at least it’s not hot dogs)
2. How’s that organic produce thing going?
Better than the meat. We make an effort to get Sausage organic fruits and vegetables, though if there isn’t much available that’s organic, we get him some conventional stuff. I try to follow the list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to help reduce pesticide exposure in conventional produce.
Crunch Score: 87 (B — not bad, but there’s room for improvement)
3. What about packaged foods?
Here’s where that personality overhaul that I was supposed to have when Sausage was born should have kicked in. I grew up eating a WHOLE. LOT. of packaged foods, and it’s been really hard for me to get out of the mindset that food should be easy. There are a few pouches of baby purees in my cupboard, though he’s had very few of them, and usually only when I’m desperately in need of a trip to the grocery store. So he might have one of those every six weeks or so. The trap I’ve really fallen into is cereals. Okay, so yeah, Sausage LOVES his organic, fruit-juice sweetened baby puffs, and I don’t feel too bad about them. But Cheerios … oh, Cheerios. They’re so conventional it’s painful, and yet everyone in the family adores them. Plus, there’s the freeze-dried fruit thing (as in, Sausage would eat freeze-dried fruit exclusively for every meal if he could). Sure, it’s just fruit, with no sugar or anything added. But it’s not fresh, and it’s not always organic.
Crunch Score: 71 (C- — bonus points given for all the baby food that I made from scratch)
4. And how much of his clothing is organic and vegetable dyed?
Like, none. We just can’t afford to spend $50 on one item of clothing that will be worn for three months. Sigh.
Crunch Score: 53 (F — I suck)
5. Okay. How much time have I spent with Sausage in a sling?
Not much. Sausage didn’t like being worn. Even as a newborn, he would scream and fuss until we took him out of whatever carrier we were using. Now that he’s older, he doesn’t seem to mind it as much, so I’ll use a carrier for short walks outside or for trips to the store, but it’s still not something that we do a whole terrible lot.
Crunch Score: 62 (D- — it’s like I want my child to hate me)
6. Have I ever given Sausage any formula?
Yes. I have. I’ve supplemented with formula when he was in growth spurts, and I’ve allowed him to have bottles of formula when I can’t be there to breastfeed. BUT. He’s one year old now, and he’s still breastfeeding 7 times a day, and I have no intention of weaning him any time soon. I met my first goal of breastfeeding through his first birthday, and now I’m aiming for eighteen months. If we’re still going strong at that point, maybe I’ll aim at two years. We’ll see.
Crunch Score: 91 (A- — points taken off for some formula use, but extended breastfeeding is not just extra credit, it’s über credit)
7. Last question. Do I clean my house using my own special combination of water, sunshine, and the sweat of my brow?
No. But that’s because I really don’t clean my house. Research suggests that children need to be exposed to germs in order to build healthy immune systems, so I’m trying hard to expose Sausage to lots and lots of germs.
Crunch Score: 103 (A+ — using research to justify living in squalor is about as crunchy as you get, and extra credit for having a really, truly DIRTY house)
Average Crunchy Mommy Test Score: 76 (C)
So, if scoring 100 would make me a truly Crunchy Mommy (the type who knows what kale is) and scoring 59 or below would make me a Captain Crunch (the type who thinks that purple ‘juice’ is actually food), then I am pretty much smack dab in the middle.
Well, I tried, anyway.
Maybe I should just buy a copy of The Sandman and be a hipster mommy?
What kind of parent did you want to be, before you actually became one?