Friday, March 16, 2012

Oh, you're one of those NATURAL parents..

1. existing in or formed by nature (opposed to artificial).

We should be proud that our generation is actively working towards normalizing "the green movement", where people all over are striving in every way possible to break free from the wasteful, synthetic, toxic lifestyles that have been so common to us growing up, and making a conscious effort to live life naturally and with as little negative impact as possible.

This enlightenment has opened doors for those of us with kids to "attachment parenting" and "natural parenting", otherwise known as the age-old ways of bringing up children that have been around long before the days of formula commercials, big box baby superstores with 1500 different options for devices that hold your baby for you, cry-it-out methods, and chemical-filled paper diapers. Many parents today are making an effort to follow their instincts, rather than following the words in a book or the out-dated advice from in-laws, and to allow a child to grow and thrive in a way that will not conflict with his innermost desires to be nurtured, nourished, organic and natural. This method of parenting has existed in the animal world (including humans) since the beginning of time, it is nothing new.. yet, we are finding ourselves sometimes struggling to rediscover what comes naturally among this industrialized world of artifical convenience and money-making schemes.

Of course, as with any "movement", the natural life movement is being faced with not only resistance, but even fear.

I'll never forget a specific time my husband and I were grocery shopping, which really opened my eyes to how others view the organic lifestyle. Nuni was just a tiny little one, sleeping in the sling with his head against my chest as we browsed through the produce, picking out the best organic fruits. Two middle-aged ladies were chatting next to me as one of them nonchalantly picked up a banana bunch and put them into her cart. Her friend stopped mid-sentence and gasped, informing her friend that she had picked up the Organic bananas!! Stunned, the other lady quickly grabbed up the organic bananas, put them back as if she had almost purchased plague bananas, and replaced them with "regular" bananas, as she said. Now, the price difference was a mere 7 cents (54 cents/lb for 'regular' bananas, 61 cents/lb for organic) and judging by the very nice clothes and designer handbags, I'm guessing that those 7 cents wouldn't exactly break the bank. I was awakened to the other perspective, that maybe others don't see our lifestyle as normal, yet still to this day, I just can't figure out why!
Another example was the time my family and I stayed for a month with my husband's brother and his family when we moved to a new state. For that month, we split rent, bills, and of course, took turns buying groceries. My husband and I would stock up on the usual organic food items that we are used to eating, while they typically bought just about anything that comes in a box or a can. One day my husband's brother pulled him aside to inform him that his wife and him were getting upset because we "always buy that organic food", and they "can't eat organic food." My husband was absolutely dumbfounded and mindblown that there are actually people out there who truly believe that they CAN'T eat organic food!

Perhaps I need to broaden my horizons a bit to try to understand that way of thinking... (any ideas?) but I tend to take the opposition a bit more personally when it comes to my kids.

Lately something that has been just bugging me are some of the reactions I face towards my choice to parent 'naturally'.. as though the methods I choose are some kind of taboo freak-show trend that will pass. We've been labeled as "hippies", "crunchy", "new-age", but I wonder, why not just 'parents'?
At times, when others notice that I happen to breastfeed my toddler (as nature intended), co-sleep/bedshare (no other animals in nature will dare to sleep without their young), babywear, feed my child unaltered foods provided from the earth, choose not to inject toxic chemicals into his bloodstream, allowed his body to remain intact, etc.. I am baffled by the very opinionated resistance of my decisions. As though my 'natural' child will contaminate their children.

Now, I will say this. I have not ALWAYS been a "natural" parent. I can see how people may be led into the more mainstream way of parenting. It's what we see everyday in the media, in public, and in many ways how we were raised ourselves. I was 17 years old when I had my first little love child almost 8 years ago, and despite my efforts to research as much as I could, I greatly depended on the advice and instruction from others. My precious firstborn daughter was vaccinated, supplemented with formula, chewed on cheap plastic toys, was given infant tylenol for teething, took antibiotics every time she had a cough, wore pampers, bathed in Johnsons, was foward-facing much too early, and fed everything Gerber had on the shelves. I thought I was giving her the best of everything at the time. Although I followed my instincts the best I could and breastfed for 15 months, co-slept, and kept her attached at the hip... I look back and realize how very naive I was back then, and how many decisions were made simply because "it's just what you do" or because it was what others said I "should do". I do regret not having looked into a more natural approach to parenting, and giving my daughter what I now percieve to be the best start in life.. To be honest, I had no idea those ways even existed.

But, as the old saying goes, "When you know better, you do better."

As soon as I happened to stumble across the words "attachment parenting", and was eventually introduced to the realm of "natural parenting" (around the time my first child turned a year old) my interest sparked, and I wanted to learn as much as I could about it all. Slowly but surely, my journey began.

I was actually having a conversation with a sweet 'crunchy' mama today about this very topic. We were discussing some of the decisions we had made with our eldest children that we now regret, and just how much our viewpoints have changed.
Isn't it amazing what we learn over the years?? You think life is one way when you're young and that you have it all figured out... But looking back I realize just how uninformed I was! 

I have so much respect for all the parents out there who strive to keep their children as natural as possible.
People say "oh, you're one of those NATURAL parents" if 'natural' is a passing TREND or something.. Like, Emo or Posh. I absolutely cannot fathom that assumption. To be natural is the opposite of a trend, it's a way of life that entails keeping yourself and loved ones the way that God/Nature/etc intended you to be. To be anything but artificial.

Boheme Mom

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