Hello, my name is Steph, and I'm a recovering "crunchy" mom. That's right, I was a granola-eating, organic vegetable-growing, herbal tea-drinking, hybrid car-driving, midwife-birthing, documentary-watching, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth-diapering, baby food-making, smoothie-drinking, health food-eating, crunchy mom. That is, until I realized being a crunchy just wasn't for me. Now, while I still do some of those things, there are a ton of things I'd rather be than a crunchy mom.
Of course, this isn't a knock on other crunchy moms, in any capacity. I know that what doesn't work for me works for someone else, and visa versa, so how anyone chooses to parent should be respected. It's just that, for me, personally, being a "crunchy" mom just didn't work out. What I thought would fit my lifestyle, and the lifestyle for my family, didn't. So, honestly, I'd rather be relaxed and calm instead of anxious and depressed all of the time. Life is so much easier now that I don't put so much pressure on myself to achieve what I initially believed to be parenting perfection, and I am a way better mom as a "hot mess" than I ever was when I was trying to be "crunchy." Mostly, I think, because I realized that, in the words of Voltaire, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." In other words, trying so hard to be perfect interfered with both my ability to be happy with my life and my confidence as a mother.
I also saw and heard so much judgment and mom-shaming from my crunchy mom friends, and they expected me to join in, which is so not my style. What I observed was a ton of people attempting perfection and associating certain "crunchy things" with a perceived ideal motherhood, which can really interfere with your happiness when you realize that motherhood is intrinsically imperfect. I realized that several things crunchy moms are expected to do, like breastfeed, stay-at-home, cook meals, babywear, co-sleep, and buy organic produce, are only possible when you have the time, money, and ability to do them. Many people, including myself, don't have that time or money or ability. I had some serious unpacking to do about my own privilege, and I realized that there are so many things I'd rather be than a crunchy mom, including:
Trying to be crunchy seriously stressed me out. I got really worked up by things like screen time and processed sugar. Now I know that almost everything is fine in moderation, and that sugar-free cookies and kale smoothies are, well, pretty damn gross.
I am so much happier now. When I tried to be a crunchy mom, I failed epically. I couldn't breastfeed, got seriously touched out, didn't get much sleep, and spent many hours trying to cook perfect, organic, home-cooked meals and bake things like whole grain, sugar-free, banana "cookies," that didn't closely resemble cookies at all. It was exhausting, and I felt like a crappy mom.
I felt like I failed at being a good crunchy mom from the moment I begged for an epidural in the delivery room, and I was constantly ashamed of not being able to do birth "right." Since discovering that parenthood is an adventure that I get to choose and based on my own family's needs and not a one-size-fits-all proposition, I am way more confident as a mom.
A Science Geek
It's ironic that while I had spent most of my career in the health care field, I wasted so much money on things like herbal supplements to boost my breast milk supply, homeopathic remedies, and amber teething necklaces, which didn't work for me. Now, I trust my and my kids' health to evidence-based medicine and our doctor's advice.
Being a crunchy mom is expensive. From organic produce, hybrid cars, and herbal supplements, to fancy baby carriers and cloth diapers, I spent a sh*t ton of money trying to live a more "natural" lifestyle.
When I was a crunchy mom, I was seriously unhealthy. As an eating disorder survivor I fell for a "healthy" lifestyle hook, line and sinker, that didn't turn out to be healthy at all when I tried to put it into practice. I went on juice fasts, cut carbs, and even tried being vegan for a while. This was so not healthy for me, personally, although I do understand that it may be a healthy choice for others.
I am way happier now that I am not counting every calorie and making green juice every morning for breakfast.
I get so much more sleep now than I did as a crunchy mom, or at least I did before my youngest was born. If we can avoid it, he'll never sleep in our bed. At least, not unless there's a thunderstorm, or he has a bad dream.
I thought that to be a good mom, I had to be touching my children at all times. However, by the end of the day I was seriously touched out, to the idea of bed sharing with my children was just too much. They seriously never stopped touching me, you guys, and this didn't strengthen our bond, it made me want to run away screaming.
While I still love snuggling, I am so much happier now that I allow my kids and I to have a bit more independence.
For me, a big part of being a feminist is respecting people's rights to bodily autonomy and to not follow stereotypical gender roles. Being a crunchy mom has a set of expectations — medication-free child birth, breastfeeding, babywearing, staying home, cooking homemade meals, etc. — that don't necessarily align every single people's choices about their bodies, their babies, and their families.
I realized that you don't have to do those things to be a good mom, and to suggest you do is seriously anti-feminist.
A Hot Mess
I now fully embrace my status as a "hot mess" mom. I would rather be a happy, calm, imperfect mom, with happy, calm, imperfect kids, than an exhausted mom constantly attempting to be "crunchy." And while I still do some crunchy things, I don't consider myself to be "crunchy" anymore. I don't need to be perfect to be good, and I know my kids don't miss my homemade kale chips (they were seriously so gross, you guys).