Health,  Mom Life

Confessions of a Crunchy Mama

I never imagined being a “crunchy mom”. I loved the smell of bleach, I owned at least 10 different scents of body sprays (Hello Love Spell!), and I loved my dryer sheets. That fresh laundry scent. Mmm.

I used to silently mock people who preferred organic food, natural deodorant, and who dried their clothes outdoors. I thought they were strange, pretentious, or in a hippie cult.

Boy, was I judgmental!

Little did I know that their choices were based on an understanding that things in nature are far better for our bodies than those created in a chemistry lab. They understood than many things we “can’t live without” were causing harm to our bodies and to our environment.

So here I am. Almost 40 and over the past 10 years or so, I’ve made decisions that brought me from ibuprofen for every headache to homeopathics and “I’ve got an oil for that”.

I went from 15 different cleaning products to vinegar, dish soap, essential oils, baking soda, and a good scrub brush.

What gives?

My journey started with a rash. I worked at a hospital as a CNA, and suddenly my legs would get a rash on them. Like so bad that one day the nurse on duty called one of the doctors to ask them to write me a script for Benadryl while I was at work.

It was bad. So I looked at what could be causing it. I figured it was the fragrance or something in the laundry detergent and dryer sheets we used. I begrudgingly switched to unscented products. It helped, but then I noticed that if I used my body sprays or perfume, I’d still break out. So I said goodbye to those.

This was the beginning of my crunchy journey. It sounds pretentious, but my motivation was so that I would stop breaking out in hives from all these toxins that my body was suddenly rejecting.

The next big step on my journey was after my first child was born.

It started when I said goodbye to gluten and ended with a completely different way of approaching food.

Have you heard of Red 40 and Yellow 5? They aren’t rock bands, they are food colorings derived from petroleum. They are the by-products of industries such as paper making. But they are approved by the FDA in the USA for consumption in food and beauty products. Unfortunately, for many children (and adults), they experience many symptoms when they ingest foods with these dyes. Some of them include irritability, rage, ADD and ADHD-like behaviors, overly emotional, and more.

I was the mom who made fun of the moms who wouldn’t let their kids have Red 40. I didn’t understand. Until I did. My oldest would act out and have crazy temper tantrums on Red 40. He would cry uncontrollably. It was rough. But we determined a few things that were triggers. Wheat/gluten, dairy (he was actually allergic), and artificial food dyes.

Suddenly I became the mom that other moms were giving “the look” to. Listen, I am not silently judging your food choices. I don’t care if your kids get ring pops and Kraft Mac and Cheese. I don’t care if you go to McD’s twice a week because you don’t have the energy to cook. But why do we as moms feel it necessary to mock moms who make healthier food choices? Why do we find it necessary to justify the things that we know aren’t beneficial?

Because let’s face it, we all know that processed sugar and processed food in general serves very little nutritional benefit. It may fill bellies, but it won’t nourish cells. And that’s okay. Sometimes. Sometimes I need the ease of feeding my kids tator tots and chicken nuggets. Sometimes they want gummy worms and chocolate. Sometimes dinner starts with ice-cream (dairy free for me and the kids). But as a crunchy mom, I’ve never felt so much scorn for the healthy choices I make as I do now. It’s hard and sometimes it hurts.

My kids do better when they don’t get gluten, dairy, or artificial food dyes. They sleep better. They are kinder to each other. And I like that. I enjoy being a mom more and they get their needs met.

I was that mom. The one who scorned the crunchy mom. The one who mocked the allergens. The one who didn’t understand. But as a crunchy mom, now I get it. We may not eat all organic, although we’d like to. We make not wear only organic cotton clothes. There are people who are far more crunchy that I. Do the things that matter the most. If for you, your kids do okay on McD’s twice a week, cool. If they can eat a Ring Pop without becoming a rage monster, that’s awesome! If they can eat dairy without risking their intestines shutting down, hallelujah.

Here are my 5 confessions:

  1. I still use All Free & Clear laundry detergent. It’s not the best option, but right now it fits in the budget and gets the clothes clean.
  2. I will never own a Prius. Unless someone buys it for me as a gift. Listen, I care about the environment and all, but I have 3 kids to haul around.
  3. When I go to Italy someday, I’m eating all the bread and cheese I can handle. Even if it has gluten. I’ll bring enzymes to help soften the impact. Ouch.
  4. I do what I do to help prevent illness in me and my family. If I’m being honest, breast cancer “runs in the family”, and environmental factors can activate it. I’d like to reduce my risk as much as possible.
  5. If I could feed my kids “whatever” and have them act like normal human beings, I would.
  6. I use Raid to kill bugs. Ok. I live in the south. The apartment I’m in has roaches. It’s been months since I saw one in my apartment. We try to keep them away with natural means for the most part, but if I see one, and can’t reach it to squish it, I use Raid. The smell is terrible, and I try and ventilate the space. But Raid wins out.

So, there you go. What are your crunchy mom confessions? I’d love to hear them!

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