Feeling a Bit Bombarded With Information

This is part two of a two part blog from our newest Gen X Mom contributor, the Composer. If you missed part one, click here.

I applaud those who can live truly green and organic and 100% pure. It takes work and self-control in our society where there is convenience at every turn. I’m 36 years old and it’s not easy to break old habits. That’s not even the right word for it. I have grown accustomed to certain foods. I still want to LIVE. I don’t want to feel like I’m on restriction or being deprived. I remember a group of my friends in college turned vegetarian and then vegan the next year. I thought they were so restrictive. I wanted to enjoy life to the fullest and if that meant a midnight run to Krispy Kreme’s or a cheeseburger, fries and cherry Coke, so be it.

Now I have a book telling me about all the food I have grown accustomed to is bad for me. Yes, refined sugar is the white devil but I love cane sugar. At least it’s not something unnatural like aspartame or Splenda or Nutrisweet. Agave nectar and honey are definite alternatives for me besides the raw sugar cane. This book is also saying how bad chocolate is because it’s processed and yada yada yada. What self-respecting woman can live without brownies?! Sinfully delicious and we know it. We all know we’re being bad eating refined sugar products, but it feels so good.

Early education.

Sometimes, it’s just information overload. It’s like I’ve opened up Pandora’s box. I’ve been hearing and reading about household cleaning products and their dangers. It’s really old news, the bottles clearly state the dangers on their labels and gloves and good ventilation are always recommended if not more safety precautions.

I feel overwhelmed and taxed. It’s hard to separate truth from scare tactics. I guess because I led the better part of my life alone and wasn’t too concerned about myself. You know that feeling that you’re invincible, like what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Youth makes us feel like we will live forever. Now that I’m a mother, you don’t want to screw up your child. You want to give them the best chance possible in this life in all aspects. If your child came down with childhood cancer, wouldn’t you question yourself as a mother that it may have been your fault because of the environmental risk factors, chemicals in paint, carpet, food, water, clothing, shampoo, soap, the air we breathe. Yes, mamas the AIR. We would feel guilty if we exposed our children to harmful air if we knew it to have detrimental side effects. We become guilt- ridden machines when it comes to our babies. This is my current plight. What to do with all this information and how to make the right choices for our children. I don’t want to be a Nazi and not let them have any childhood delights. I can’t keep them in a bubble…because of the BPA in the plastics. Ok, ok, maybe I’ve been watching too much Tosh.0 and I’m becoming jaded.

Seriously folks, “organic” is the new gimmick and big business knows it. They know parents want the best for their children, so they find ways of swindling more money out of our pockets by branding it “organic”. It’s all marketing. For example, Earth’s Best. Just by the sound of that, you’d want to be feeding your child the earth’s best, wouldn’t you?

When I was a kid, my mom would shop at Follow Your Heart, a small local health food store at the time. We would buy organic veggies and I had my all-natural baby shampoo, loofah, sea sponge and pumice stone. I loved the bamboo rice paddles to cook with. I just got a newsflash this Friday when reading about Shaklee how I should be replacing my plastic cookware. I almost fainted. To think how often I have served and eaten soup from the same plastic ladle. Or how I used to microwave my food in Tupperware or covered in plastic wrap. I didn’t hop on the silicone bandwagon for kitchen utensils. That is one, I never trusted. Then to hear that’s what is in my shampoo, conditioner, lotions and face creams…when does it end?

What is a mama to do?

Well…this mama is going to do the best SHE can. I’m going to treat this like everything else in my life… in moderation. I will strive to strike a balance between both worlds. I will buy organic whenever feasibly possible but I won’t kill myself over it. One area I have already made a change is with haircare and I have noticed an immediate difference for the good. My hair looks and feels younger and my scalp doesn’t itch like a mad woman after I shower either.

From this point forward, I will read labels and research the contents if I’m unfamiliar with them. Learning to identify prefixes, suffixes and root words will be more time efficient in the grocery aisle with the kids in tow. I will not take for granted that foods or products are safe.

I wonder how long plastics are unsafe for when heated, like my old ladle which has been ladling hot soup for at least 10 years. Is it still emitting bad stuff or is it spent so to speak? More research to be done on this subject.

As for the sinful delights, I will be moderate to rare with my indulgences, and for the rest of the time do my best to be organic and responsibly green. I’m not perfect but I will do my part and impart my knowledge onto my children and hopefully they will have something to teach me too.

The Hardest Thing About Parenthood is…

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Someone recently asked the question:  What is the hardest thing about being a parent?   So I thought it over.

Is it losing sleep?  Seriously, you can’t even explain the sleep deprivation thing to your friends without kids because they just won’t get it. For those first few months you become a barely functioning zomboid, snapping at your spouse at 3 in the morning and arguing over who is going to get up the next time. Hey, has anyone else’s husband done that thing where you know he is awake and hearing the babe but pretends to be dead asleep because, after all, only mama can breastfeed. Darn it. Fortunately, this stage of the game usually gets better after the first year or so. So this can’t be the answer. Don’t count on sleeping in much for the next 8 years or so though. 

Keeping baby safe

Keeping baby safe

How about nursing a sick kid and trying not to care when the child coughs and spews all over you, usually when you are wearing a favorite shirt? And you know you are going down hard next, yet you get no sick days. This works out awesomely when your kid bounces back in no time but there you are zapped of all energy for the next week or two. Oh and then there’s the fact that most of the medicines for small children have been taken off the shelves due to the FDA recommending that they not take any over-the-counter meds until they are 6. All you get to give them are children’s Tylenol and vaporub. Not exactly sleep enhancers. The grandparents talk about giving their kids a little whisky to help them sleep. I think sometimes ignorance really is bliss. But this, too, is fleeting so it couldn’t be the hardest part.

What about the clean up?  Ever been scrubbing out the pants (or blankets, shoes, etc) your child poopsploded on and wondered if it’s even worth salvaging these or easier just to toss and get some new ones? If you’re a SAHM like me, there is that small matter of a budget, can’t buy clothes EVERY TIME this happens. But I have thought about it often. Even had awful thoughts about going to Wal-Mart (I hate Wal-Mart). As the child gets older, however, these incidents become less and less. Make it through the first 5 years and this will fade.

Adjusting your life. For a mom who works outside the house, it might mean part of you may feel guilty and/or wish to be home with the kids. For a SAHM, it means being isolated from most other adults until you work up the confidence to get out of the house and meet other moms or dads. In my case, I just didn’t realize what I was missing until I rediscovered having a bit of a social life after finally joining a moms group – thanks, Mommica!  Of course, the game has changed because now you sit around talking about your kids and swapping mom notes because, well, what else is there to talk about when your job is to watch your child 24/7? This means less time, if any, with non-parents. Unless, of course, they truly don’t mind you talking about your kid A LOT. Some actually do want to hear all the cute things that Timmy did today. Well, at least they pretend they do which is good enough for me. 

Sacrificing your time. And I’m not just talking about less time for hanging out with friends,  I’m talking no time to shower or comb your hair when the child is younger and then less time for hobbies, talking on the phone, internet surfing  or simply having time for yourself when they are older. Once the kid stops taking a nap then there he is demanding equal time on the computer and deliberately erasing your favorite shows on the DVR. Time to get more activities on the calendar. I would also add doing what’s best for your child rather than what you would like to do.

How about the frequent state of worry and self-doubt?  Am I doing this right?  Will not making my baby food from scratch affect this child’s health in the long-term? What about the times I’ve used Nick Jr. as a babysitter?  What about those studies which say that this can negatively affect behavior FOR LIFE. Oh, he bumped his head pretty hard.  Should I take him to the doctor today or would I be overreacting?  Look at what happened to Natasha Richardson!  What if there’s a big earthquake and I can’t get to him?  What if there’s a war and he gets drafted? It’s just a constant string of what ifs that goes through your mind that you can never entirely block out.  And there’s a heightened state of awareness. Before having a kid, I hardly paid attention to things like fire escape routes, for example. Now that I’m responsible for this other person, I find myself seeking out fire door locations, counting seats on airplanes, and studying emergency maps behind hotel doors. I now know that the fire truck’s ladders do not reach above the 7th floor. By God, I am not going to be the one whose family dies in the smoke because I can’t find my way out. Retailers and restaurant owners beware because if I see an emergency exit blocked (you’d be surprised how often this is the case – scary) then you are going to hear about it. A lot of the “what ifs” seem irrational and silly but there are some potential dangers that do warrant serious worry. Kids do get molested.  Accidents do happen.  Some will do drugs.  Some will get cancer. Yikes. And take note that I am not a worrier by nature.  I can only imagine how hard this is for someone who worried even before having kids. Now I’m getting closer to the answer.

In the end, my best answer for the question of what’s hardest about being a parent is dealing with the emotional kryptonite that comes with the job.  The love you feel for your child (or children)  is so strong that you suddenly have this huge weakness that you can’t do anything about. It’s like wearing your heart outside of your body. So difficult but so worth it. 

Hey Mom, I finally understand. This one’s for you!

The Librarian