I don't think there's one standard definition for what is or is not a "crunchy mom." Instead, I think it's one of those things where, if you are one, you just know. In general, a crunchy mom is a mom who likes things "natural." She's really into the environment and breastfeeding and feelings and attachment parenting and "alternative remedies" and good vibes, man. And maybe she doesn't do all of these things, but she's interested in enough of them to consider herself "crunchy." This of course, prompts some people (jerks) to say rude things to crunchy moms. Because, you know, no one can have a different opinion or thought without one person's personal decisions somehow being an insult to the way someone else does something.
I thought it would be fun to explore and dissect some of the things I've heard, both personally and secondhand, from people people who apparently feel more than comfortable saying pleasant things to crunchy moms. I've also thrown in some snappy ways one might respond, because, you know, why not?
"Now hold on there," you might be saying, growing saltier by the second. "Crunchy moms can be judgmental and rude, too! Just the other day a crunchy mom told me I was a bad mom for bottle-feeding my baby! Was that right?"
To which I say: of course that wasn't right. That was rude and that person was mean. Mom-jerks come from all walks of mom-life, my friends. Silky moms, crunchy moms, hot mess moms, Type A moms. But, for the most part, we're all just doing what works for us and are trying to get by. So, sure, lots of other moms get crap, but today I want to talk specifically about the crap heaped upon a crunchy mom. Thing like, for example, the following:
"Midwife?! I'll Go To A *Real* Doctor, Thanks!"
"OK! Cool! Do what makes you the most comfortable! Of course it might be helpful for you to know that midwives are highly trained specialists who go through years of study and extensive training in order to be able to do what they do. I'd hate for you to sound like an uninformed jerk who flits about judging people with absolutely no idea what they're talking about."
"You Know They Don't Give Out Medals For Giving Birth Without Drugs, Right?"
"Wait whaaaaaat?! Are you serious! Thank God you told me! This whole birth plan was put in place so that I could get a sweet, sweet prize outta the deal. I was going to hang it over my mantle in a special display case. And then, whenever someone came over, I'd casually stride over to it and say, 'Oh, this? That's the medal I got for giving birth without medication. Yeah, it's solid gold. Pretty sweet.' But if I'm not going to get a medal, well then, just forget it!"
"That's A Weird Name"
Again, #NotAllCrunchyMoms, but we are perhaps more inclined to choose less common, more "creative" names for our children than others. And if there's one thing you "normals" love, it's making your opinions known on a name that isn't "a real name." To you and people like you, I say "Seriously, dudes? It's not you or your kid. You need to chill. Also, literally every name ever in the history of names was made up at one point. So calm yourself."
Also, I don't care what any of you people say. Juniper is an amazing name.
"Cover Up! No One Wants To See That!"
"Actually, judging by advertising, fashion, and a thriving pornography industry, lots of people want to see boobs, but I'm thinking you just don't want to see them in a non-sexual setting because it's screwing with your idea of what boobs are for (and, more broadly, what women are for). To combat this flagrant ignorance (and to exercise my right to breastfeed where and when I want, uncovered) I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing and you can deal with it."
"They Make Formula You Know..."
"For-moo-la? What is this you speak of? And wait, am I saying this right? For-moo-la? That sounds so fancy! No, I've never heard of this mysterious item, for you see I've been living at the bottom of the ocean for the last 151 years."
"Aren't They A Little Old To Be Breastfeeding?"
"Aren't you a little old to be questioning how a grown- ass woman chooses to feed her child? Shouldn't you know, at least by now, that it's absolutely none of your business? And if you're not sure, you can just Goggle it. Seriously, just type "how long should a baby be breastfed?" and you will see numerous organizations (including the American Association of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization) advocate for breastfeeding for one to two years 'or beyond,' with no end date even suggested.
"You're Going To Spoil Them If You Hold Them All The Time"
"Oh yeah. That's a thing that totally happens. You know why Stalin killed all those people? His mom held him way too much. It spoiled him. If I keep holding this child the Communists win! THANK YOU FOR SHOWING ME THE ERROR OF MY WAYS!"
"Just Use Disposable Diapers. It's So Much Easier."
"It is. But using cloth diapers is actually a lot easier than finding a new, habitable planet after we wreck this one. You know. Just saying."
And, no, of course one person using cloth diapers isn't going to single-handedly save the planet, just like one person (or even millions of people) using disposable diapers isn't going to wreck the planet either. We have large corporations and industry to blame for that, for the most part. But, like, why do you care? Certainly cloth diapers aren't hurting anyone. At worst they're neutral, and at best they're playing a small part in helping the environment.
"Is Your Baby Wearing A Necklace?"
Referring, of course, the amber teething necklaces, of which crunchy moms are so fond. These little things allegedly help infants and toddlers who are teething. While there is literally no science to back this up (yeah, sorry fellow crunchy moms, but you've gotta respect the science) they're nevertheless adorable as all get-up and, potentially, a great placebo (and placebos work, people!). So just let us put our babies in cute necklaces, you guys!
"Why Don't You Just *Buy* Baby Food?"
A good thing to do when people say this to you is to look them square in the eye and say, "I just really like blenders." Then turn on your blender and shout, "Because you see? I can't hear you blathering when this is on! It's a great way to zen out and enjoy not hearing people be critical and judgmental for absolutely no reason at all!" If the start talking, just shout "WHAT?!" then motion toward your ears like you can't hear them.
"Don't Talk About Your Kids' Feelings. Just Tell Them What To Do."
More often than not, the best way to respond to my kids' tantrums/poor behavior/emotional moments/etc. is to just ask your kids, "How do you feel right now?" This is sort of a part of the whole "gentle parenting" technique and lots of crunchy moms (though not exclusively crunchy moms) go with it.
I've learned two things about this method. One, it's really effective in getting my children to pull themselves together. Two, it is deeply upsetting to a whole lot of people who watch me do it. Those people tend to believe that the only way to respond to such tantrums/meltdowns is with with stern and/or harsh discipline. Hey, different strokes for different folks, man, but this is what works for us, so back off.
"Don't Be Your Kid's Friend, Be Their Parent"
"Believe me when I say that if you witnessed the very weird, sarcastic interactions I have with all my friends, you would never think I was mistaking friendship with parenting."
"I Was Spanked & I Turned Out Fine"
Yeah, well, I once had a dresser fall on top of me when I was 4 and I turned out fine, but that doesn't mean I want my kids to go through the same experience.
Humans are resilient. They can live, and even thrive, through all sorts of things. That doesn't mean those things are de facto good for us, though. I don't want to spank my kids for lots of reasons, but none of them have anything to do with you, so maybe don't take it personally.
"Do Your Kids Ever Wear Clothes?"
Ugh. Clothing. So restrictive. So overrated. Ya gotta let your body air out sometimes, man.
"You're Going To Make Them Gay"
People have actually said this to me, usually about my son, when I encourage him to talk about his feelings, or let him wear a tutu, or, like, don't hide the fact that gay people exist from him.
Which, obviously, is not even a little bit how gayness works, but I always want to say the following to those people:
"Good! I'm only having kids to try to raise a homosexual army who will rise up, take over the government, and outlaw straight marriage. Quick, hand me a rainbow flag and body glitter, I need an ULTRA-GAY SUPER-SOLDIER!"
"Is That Coconut I Smell?"
Oh for sure. Coconut oil is good for everything. Have you tried it?
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.