Sunday, February 26, 2012

Minus Ten Crunchy Points

Welcome to the "I'm a Natural Parent - BUT..." Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.
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If you're a parent and have access to the internet, you've probably heard of "The Mommy Wars". While online parenting communities can be invaluable resources for support and information, unfortunately, they can also be full of judgment and exclusion if you don't do everything "perfectly". In "natural" parenting circles, I sometimes see a "crunchier than thou" attitude, even in the most inclusive communities. Sadly, this most often comes out when parents are seeking support or advice, or beginning to research difficult decisions. Instead of being met with answers to their questions or fingers pointing them in the right direction, they are met with judgment and fingers pointing at them, asking "How dare you call yourself a natural parent if you would even consider __________?"

What has been perhaps the most fascinating to me in these crunchy mommy wars is that the very things that would get me kicked out of the crunchy club online are things that make me seem almost too crunchy to many of my family and friends in "real life". I consider myself a Natural Parent, even though I don't do everything by the Crunchy Bible, whatever that may be. I think Dr. Sears (whose work I love! don't get me wrong!) probably wrote it.

So yes, I'm a natural parent, BUT...

C-Section babies can choose their birthdays too.
I had a planned (but not scheduled) c-section. Due to complications at the end of my pregnancy and breech presentation, I had a c-section. I refused to schedule it, since there was no immediate danger, and I wanted to go into labor naturally so that I knew my baby was ready to be born. It was difficult for me to come to terms with after researching and preparing for an unmedicated waterbirth, but after trying everything (and I mean everything) to turn my baby, alas, a surgical birth it was.

  • IRL (In Real Life) Reactions: You should just schedule it! You could pick her birthday and know for sure when she's coming! Why would you want to go through the pain of labor if you know you're having a c-section anyway? What kind of hippie are you?
  • OCMC (Online Crunchy Mama Clubs) Reactions: You should consider an unassisted birth at home! Minus 10 Crunchy Points!
We transitioned our daughter to her crib in her own room by 6 months, and only co-slept part time after that. My daughter and I are both pretty light sleepers, and we were constantly waking each other up with the slightest movement. When she started sleeping on her own, nights were better for all of us. When she woke up in the night, she was (and still is) welcome to join us in our family bed.

Alone in her crib.
Clearly traumatized.
  • IRL Reactions: Why would you have your baby in bed with you at all? She should have been in a crib on her own from the beginning! I can't believe you still let her into your bed! She'll never learn to sleep alone! What kind of hippie are you?
  • OCMC Reactions: Your baby belongs next to you. Bed-sharing at least through preschool is the only acceptable option for attached parents. Minus 10 Crunchy Points!
I work part-time. My daughter is in daycare 1-2 half days per week. After a four month maternity leave, I returned to my part-time job. This past summer, I added another part-time job to the mix. (I work fewer than 30 hours per week at both jobs, combined.) Between the way my husband and I have arranged our schedules and my very helpful mother, we have managed to minimize the time that Delilah spends at the in-home daycare run by one of my best friends.
  • IRL Reactions: How will she get proper socialization if she spends so little time at daycare? Wouldn't you rather be getting paid more and earning benefits by working full time? How sheltered she must be! What kind of hippie are you?
  • OCMC Reactions: Babies must have a stay-at-home parent in order to form proper and healthy attachments. You are damaging your child by leaving her in the care of others. If you really cared about natural parenting, you would find a way to stay home with her. Minus 10 Crunchy Points.
I began a mother-led form of weaning (don't offer, don't refuse) when my daughter turned 2. While I feel strongly that child-led weaning is ideal, I also feel strongly that a nursing relationship should continue only for as long as it is mutually desired. My desire to continue breastfeeding was waning, so I began to gently lead the weaning process.
She asked, she received.
  • IRL Reactions: You're still breastfeeding your 2 year old? GROSS! What kind of hippie are you?
  • OCMC Reactions: Children must be allowed to continue breastfeeding until they feel ready to stop. You are disrupting a natural process by leading the weaning process and denying your child her birthright. Minus 10 Crunchy Points.
We vaccinate selectively, and on a delayed schedule, never giving more than one shot at a time. We did thorough research and weighed the risks of vaccine reactions against the risks of the diseases they protect against. With our doctors help and support, we came up with a selective and delayed vaccination schedule that we're all comfortable with.
  • IRL Reactions: You are endangering your daughter's life by not fully vaccinating her according to the CDC recommended schedule. Every rash or illness or undesirable behavior she has is a direct result of not being fully vaccinated. Forget hippie, you're insane!
  • OCMC Reactions: You are endangering your daughter's life by giving her any vaccinations at all.  Every rash or illness or undesirable behavior she has is a direct result of having been vaccinated. Forget Crunchy Points, you are kicked out of the club!

Am I perfect Natural Parent? Nope. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I do the best I can, and make adaptations for what works best for my family. By some standards, I'm far too crunchy. By other standards, I have no right to call myself a natural parent at all. By my standards, and from what I can tell, by my daughter's standards, I've struck just the right balance for us, and to this hippie, that's worth all the crunchy points in the world!

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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

23 comments:

  1. Loved your post! I'm not the owner of the points but if i were i'd give them all back t you :) From reading it's so clear you have found the balance that works for you and your family to be happy and healthy and I think that is fantastic! PS- my first was a breech "tried everything in the world to turn around baby" that was born via c-section :)

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  2. I love the difference between the IRL mommy friends and the online crunchy community - I totally feel that divide too as my IRL mommy friends are far from crunchy.

    It has been really reassuring reading these "I'm a natural parent, but..." posts. It reminds me that everyone else only seems perfect.

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  3. AH MAN, if we are loosing 10 points per confession I am so out of the club!! LOL.
    Great post, and I love the comparision from the in real life friends (who always seem to be "mainstream haha) and our crunchy mama communities. Sadly I have had some of those exact reactions aimed at me, espeically on the vax debate. Vaccines are now one of those "do not under any circumstances ever discuss" topics with religion and politics. Except of course, when confessing how NOT crunchy I am :) Looks like I am kicked out of the club with you haha.

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  4. Loved your post! We are VERY similar in our transgressions ;) I've been gently forming Abbey's natural weaning process since 2.5 years, with a "don't offer, don't refuse" philosophy as well. And we selectively vaccinate as well. Like the others said. . . if we really would get kicked out of the crunchy club, I'd be out there with you! :)

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  5. Amen to what Christy said! I'm gonna be out of the club as well! :D

    We did a slow transition with co-sleeping too, we would start my son off in HIS own bed in his own room at night and at first waking, bring him to bed with us....if he didn't wake, he stayed there. We all slept well and I figured, "Yay, it works." But it was met with a lot of negative reactions in the "natural parenting community".

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  6. I snickered the whole way through this post!! How many crunchy points do we get to start with, anyway? I need to start saving mine lest I run out!! ;)

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  7. Count me in among the moms who hear the IRL and Crunchy discrepancies! It's a tricky balance to walk, but you do it well. Being true to yourself and your daughter is all anyone can ask!

    I agree w/ Jenn that it's very reassuring to see all these (so-called, heh) confessions! No one does it ALL..but what we do do is mindful and Motherful!

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  8. Wow, sounds as if the "natural parents" are pretty hardcore.

    Evidentally its not "natural" to be moderate, balanced, and reasonable...

    And, evidentally irl people aren't either... :P

    In short, its completely ridiculous for either side to make judgements about such nuanced decisions a family/person decides what is best for them.

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  9. LOL! Loved this post. I have also experienced this dichotomy of IRL v. online parenting communities and their respective opinions of my parenting choices. It's funny how the same decision could provoke such blatantly opposite responses! It's a great reminder to keep our opinions to ourselves and let other people just BE, already.

    I want to know WHO exactly is dolling out these crunchy points, anyway!? =P

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  10. Haha!! Love the way you wrote this! It's so true, everyone has an opinion! Great post. :)

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  11. I love the way you wrote this and that you had a planned but not scheduled c-section. At the end of my second pregnancy my midwife thought my baby might be breech. I went to her OB for an ultrasound and was planning on letting him know I'd have an unscheduled, planned c-section. Baby wasn't breech after all, though.

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  12. So funny, and so true! I have SO many guilty little non-natural parenting secrets, and reading the posts in this carnival has been extremely heartening :-)

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  13. I love the way you wrote this, such a great post. You have a million real mamma points in my book and not mention all the crunchy points in the world!

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  14. That vax, non-vax fence is so tricky. That is where I have the hardest time! I love hearing how NP works for families of all types: the working ones are not frequently represented because of the "not crunchy enough," when I know they love their children just as much as I love mine!

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  15. I haven't come across those mummy wars too often, but people do tend to be too perfect online, don't they? All your non-crunchy decisions seem to be well-researched and a necessity, really. I think you can keep your points :)

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  16. Very neatly written. Made me giggle in places. We do the best we can, mama.

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  17. I feel you every step of the way. Every step. I am in the exact same boat, except it's a mix of friends in real life and blog world. I'd say that anyone who knows me in real life considers me waaaaaaaaay too crunchy (I have dreadlocks, afterall, still breastfeed my 19 month old {in public! aack} sleep with my son, babywear, etc.) but whenever I do anything that seems counter-hippie (to others) they mention it. I had a homebirth, but we vaccinate. Some people seem to think those two don't go hand in hand AT ALL. I have dreads, but I sometimes wear a bit of make-up. WHAT THE WHAT? I used to feel pressure to really mold myself into ONE particular box, you know, so it would be easier for others to categorize me, I guess? But not any more. I have learned, over time, to embrace the things in myself and my parenting and my style that are paradoxical, if for no other reason than pure amusement.

    Great post! If you were a type of granola, you'd simply have a few M&M's thrown in there, right? Me too.

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  18. I love the layout of this post with the different reaction scenarios! It is very true that you can't make any 'group' perfectly happy and those that try tend to overlook their family's needs in exchange. Finding out what works for us is a learning process and sometimes we cross all sorts of imaginary lines in doing so!

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  19. I'm pretty sure both my c-sections along with using disposable diapers brought my points to zero, but I do have some extra crunchy clout for tandem nursing & breastfeeding til my kids were 3.5 & 4yrs. Of course... those points quickly become deducted for my work out of the home status. But maybe I gain a little back because my kids are vegetarian? ;)
    Love this post!!

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  20. Ha! Love the way you put this together. You just can't win! Sounds though like you are perfectly balanced and not swayed by anything other than what works for your family.

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  21. You just summed up our family! We are still exclusively co-sleeping at 4 months, but my daughter is starting to thrash about in her sleep just a little bit....I love sleeping with her, but I am open to other sleeping arrangements in the future, as long as there is no CIO.

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  22. LOVE LOVE LOVE your post! As a parent who intended on co-sleeping, it went the same way and did NOT work out for us almost from day 1. L slept SO much better in his crib and I also have plenty of pics of him sleeping peacefully alone.... again, CLEARLY TRAUMATIZED!! Haha!!!!

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  23. I'm in the same boat you are, and had almost identical scenarios for each point - I'm glad to see this post. Thanks.

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