I read this blog post today, I’m Not a Crunchy Mom Anymore, and…I just could not help but write this response.
You see, I get her ultimate point. Let some things go, be who you are, don’t let standards stress you out. Awesome! But I also feel like she…kind of missed something important with her message. And it’s such a pervasive attitude, and it’s really so damaging to a lot of the “crunchy” (also called natural) community that, well…it needs to be addressed.
So I’ll start here: Yes, I’m STILL crunchy.
Yes, I’m STILL a Crunchy Mama
Unlike the author of the original post, I didn’t research the crap out of everything before my first baby. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and assumed I’d be mostly mainstream. I planned a hospital birth, bought disposable diapers, set up a crib (that I intended to use no later than 3 months after baby was born), and figured I’d mostly vaccinate…eventually.
After my baby came, it was a veeeeeeeery slow awakening to another way. An awakening that came because I started diving into the research. Because I realized my baby had food allergies. Because the doctors didn’t help us (and we tried several). Because I wanted a healthier, better way.
Ultimately, I didn’t choose what I did because I thought that I was better than anyone else. I certainly didn’t do it because I was “up on a high horse” (as the author says at one point). I wasn’t and am not perfect in my approach to crunchy. But yes, I still claim the title. It’s about so much more than whether or not you successfully accomplish a ridiculous standard and adhere strictly to certain practices.
I’m expecting my 6th baby now, and although things have changed over the years — how could they not? — yes, I am still crunchy.
Crunchy is Not Perfect
We have to get over the idea that being “crunchy” means you are somehow perfect…or think you are.
All of the crunchy mamas I know don’t think this way. They are simply trying to do what is right for their families. They don’t really care what others do. And they don’t do what they do because it’s some “standard” they’re trying to meet. There are no awards for being crunchy, and no one is trying to earn anything.
This is a damaging idea for two reasons.
First, because those outside of the crunchy community get very snarky when those inside of it try to share information sometimes. “What, you think you’re perfect? Must be nice, up on your high horse.” (If I had a dime for every time I’ve read or heard that said to a natural mama….) It’s like people are trying so hard not to feel guilty for what they can’t or don’t want to do that it’s this big race to the bottom. We’re all in together, and we’re all doing it badly.
Look, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about doing our best. It’s about learning new things, and making small changes. It’s about doing the right thing on the big stuff, the long-term, life-changing stuff, and letting the rest go.
But we can’t even share information — much less collaborate! — when people are oddly convinced that natural parents think they’re perfect. There are mamas out there who feel judged just because someone else says “This is what works for me.” They’re reading into it “…and if you don’t do the same, you’re a bad mom.” When no one ever said that. This just leaves everyone feeling frustrated!
Second, because mamas who do want to be “crunchy” and are new to it all, find it overwhelming. They feel like they have to “do it all” and right now…or else they’re basically killing their kids.
This is not true!!
It is a process for all of us. We never “arrive,” either. We are never finished learning. We are never perfect. No one expects anyone to be perfect. You take baby steps, and you do the best you can, where you are.
Crunchy Is Not a Set of Standards
The only standard that is true of all crunchy moms, is that they prefer natural whenever possible. Exactly what that looks like and what they can achieve in their situation will be different — sometimes, very different.
There’s nothing that says, “to be a crunchy mom, you HAVE to:”
- Baby wear
- Eat only organic
- Never watch TV
Yes, these things tend to be more common among the natural mamas, but not everyone does them. This doesn’t disqualify you. You’re not “less than” because you couldn’t or didn’t do one or more of these practices.
And frankly, if they stress you out and you are holding yourself to some crazy standard, instead of doing what truly works for you, you’re doing it wrong.
I do what I do because it works for me. It feels right. It does not stress me out. I don’t care if others are or aren’t doing the same. I’m not parenting to get approval from people (who frankly don’t care) or out of fear of…something. I truly just do what feels most natural for my family.
That’s what everyone should be doing. What feels most natural or most right for their families. Cloth diapers really work for you? Awesome! You’re not feeling it? Cool! Really…it doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t make you crunchy if you do, and it doesn’t keep you from being crunchy if you don’t.
Everyone — Crunchy Moms Too — Are a Mix
Guess what? Going back to that “we’re not perfect” thing, we truly all are a mix of crunchy and not-so-crunchy. That can change by situation, personal needs, preferences, or even just when you have a bad day.
Do “crunchy” kids occasionally eat non-organic food…with food dyes and all?! Yup. Do they do it on a regular basis? No. The mamas generally try to avoid these things (that’s what makes them crunchy), but recognize that it isn’t always possible.
Do “crunchy” kids use modern medicine?! Yup. Is it mama’s first resort when someone’s sniffling? No. Mamas know there’s a time and a place for doctors, but don’t rush to them for every little thing. Balance.
Do “crunchy” kids watch TV? Heck yes! There is actually no consensus on this in the crunchy community. Some parent in a way that allows their kids free access to media. Others don’t even own a TV. It varies wildly by family.
There is no absolute-must with crunchy. All you need is a hankering for research, a preference for natural, and a desire to do your best. That’s really it.
Let It Go!
If you’re still thinking that crunchy is this impossible way to achieve, let it go. Really. Know that in some seasons of life, you will do more of some things than you wish you did. But that some day, when the season is easier, you will get back to doing better. (And then another tough season will come up.)
It’s a constantly changing process. It’s a decision you make child by child, year by year, even minute by minute sometimes.
You will never do it all. You never should do it all. It’s okay.
Still love doing your research? Still prefer to do things naturally when you can? Then you can claim the “crunchy mama” label.
Love mainstream, find it easier, and see no reason to buck the trends? You’re not a crunchy mama. Still fine, it’s your way, just different.
Above all, let it go. Stop worrying about what the mama next to you is doing, or why. Don’t try to guess her motivations. And surely don’t assign her motivations like “she thinks she’s better than me” or “bet she’s perfect.” She isn’t, and she isn’t thinking it. She is most likely thinking “I hope she doesn’t judge me for being different….” She’s just trying to do her best, her way…just like you.
Are you still a crunchy mama?
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