An expression used here in sunny Portland, Oregon (what? It is sunny!) to describe a certain type of person is “crunchy.” I assume it is used elsewhere as well. It is a term with negative associations regarding the liberal, hippie-esque tendencies of some of our residents. Different than hipsters (which run rampant here but you’d never know it if you asked them because they don’t like labels), crunchy granola people are the stereotype of an Oregonian from which some of us want to escape. But they are not caricatures! They’re real, live people! They are generally easy to spot (hemp clothes) or even…smell, but, much like autism, crunchiness is a spectrum, so sometimes people hide behind non-vegan footwear and Starbucks coffee to reveal their inner crunchiness. There’s also the opposite. A kid can have a name that’s not on the top 100 for the year and might be in the puffiest cloth diaper there ever was but the parents can otherwise not strike you as crunchtastic.
It’s a weird word to use: crunchy. I like my granola crunchy…I’d say that’s good granola. And these people don’t necessarily eat granola…especially if it’s not gluten free. It’s certainly a judgment when you hear it. As the Mommy Wars wage on (on facebook that is), I find myself trying to disassociate myself with the crunchies. So what’s the opposite of crunchy? Soft granola? Bacon? I don’t know. It’s a strange form of categorization.
The official term for “crunchy parenting” is “attachment parenting” which sounds fairly reasonable and has seven main tenants, most of which I do to an extent. But that’s not what crunchiness has become. Based on several very official online quizzes, here’s where I stand on the crunch meter.
Crunch level: squishy
Reason: You may know from my previous rants and birth story that I had a deeply unnatural (supernatural?) birth experience. AND I LOVED IT. If I hadn’t had every medical intervention in the book, baby Booberry and I would be D-E-D dead. And also my genital region would be forever destroyed by her giant, face-up head. Because of my C-section, I did not get to do disgusting skin to skin with my bloody, gooey baby, though I would have. I did it as soon as I could back in recovery and I was on SO MANY DRUGS, I only remember a flash (of first-latch pain) of it. The thing that the crunchiest of crunchies does that makes me bonkers is not the having of the natural birth (DO WHAT YOU WANT), it’s the advocating of the more “natural” ways over trusting your doctor (WHO HAS A DOCTORATE IN YOUR VAGINA AND ITS FUNCTIONS). It is intensely disrespectful to the doctor and nurses who put in years of training and hours of their lives (many of these hours at night) for you and your health. I have heard a midwife say that doctors just push for C-sections to get it over and done with so they can be home for dinner. Uhhhh nope. My doctor was on call for a solid twenty-four hour stretch the day I was there. He went home for breakfast seven hours after he surgically removed my baby at midnight after being with me for a full day before that. I had the same nurse twenty of the twenty-six hours I was in labor. No one is going home. No one is rushing anyone. Ok sorry, ranting again. END OF RANT (for now).
Go to your baby when she cries.
Crunch level: this granola might be stale or overcooked
Reason: Here’s my hang up with cry it out (CIO for those of you IN A HURRY). My kid doesn’t know why she’s upset. She just knows she feels sad and alone. Have you ever been sad and alone in the dark and just wished you felt safe? Have you ever had an inconsolable sadness? I can make her sad feelings go away by holding her. Sure, it would be convenient for me if she just put herself to sleep. But I can wait. I read an article that scarred me for life that said that kids’ cortisol levels (stress) are still high after they cry it out (as opposed to when they are held and compared to the mother’s cortisol levels during and after the baby is crying). Is it true? I don’t know. I don’t care. Yet. I reserve the right to change my mind and get less crunchy and be hardened (see? It’s a confusing metaphor) and let the child cry. Because clearly kids who I know cried it out are fine and at least mostly well adjusted. This is my crunchiest thing.
Crunch level: soft with a little crispiness
Reason: HERE IS MY BIGGEST SECRET. For the first week, giant baby Booberry and I were out of sync and I didn’t make enough for her…and I SUPPLEMENTED WITH FORMULA. Omg. I am going to parenting hell. And my kid is going have a lower IQ (because IQ is everything?). I was full-blown afraid to tell people this. Not because I was ashamed since my entire purpose as a woman is to give and sustain life (remember how I would have died without modern medicine? Clearly survival of the fittest isn’t really a thing anymore), but because I was too tired and on drugs to fight the Mommy Battle regarding the use of formula. So I would vaguely say, “she just ate” instead of “she had a bottle,” so no one would know my shame. Then, everything worked out and now I am still the super special one who has to wear maxi-pads on my boobs because I am a milk over-achiever and I really do love breastfeeding. I won’t do it forever, but I’ll keep it up for a while.
Crunch level: homemade granola bar from a made up recipe
Reason: Attachment parents are all for co-sleeping. At the very least, they say you should sleep with your baby in the same room with you for six months. I did minimal online research on this and, generally, co-sleeping can be a SIDs risk and I’m too anxious about that kind of thing and also Catdome likes to co-sleep (on our faces) and he gets aggressive if we don’t love him enough. So, we slept with her in the room with us until…four months. Why four? Totally arbitrary. But I had the sneaking suspicion that sleep talking Doctor, aggressive cuddler Catdome, people getting up to pee in the night, and not wanting to go to bed at 7pm was leading to Boo waking up more than necessary. So we moved her to her room and I didn’t sleep much that night, constantly wanting to go make sure she was still breathing. And she totally slept better (until teething started).
Baby led weaning
Crunch level: oatmeal
Reason: This, as I understand it, is that instead of feeding your six-month old watered down baby food from a spoon, you give your baby chunks of actual food and see if they choke and die. This is supposed to teach the baby…something valuable…
Amber teething necklaces
Crunch level: milk
Reason: NO MEDICAL PROOF. Parents somewhere got the idea that you can put a pretty amber beaded necklace around your infant’s neck and it will relieve teething pain (through...magic?). I’m sure babies will just forget that they like to chew on everything and that they only grab at everything with spastic fervor and just leave the tantalizing thing around their necks and not die. Sarcasm! I DON’T GET THIS ONE!
Crunch level: married
Reason: Portland had a vote right before we moved here that asked its residents if they wanted their tap water fluoridated. Wealthy people, hippies, and those who hate dentists with a sociopathic passion voted that they didn’t want their pure, delicious (it is) water being poisoned with chemicals. As much as I hate flossing, I am married to a dentist and he, despite the fact that lack of fluoridation would give him more patients, is pretty clear on the issue: kids need teeth. Fluoridate. He had an awkward argument with our neighbor at a block party when the poor neighbor, with no facts to back up his claim, “respectfully disagreed” that the water should be fluoridated. Pretty sure we’re not going to get invited to any parties at his house…
Crunch level: store bought
Reason: I’m lazy.
Crunch level: the box says it’s organic granola so I’ll buy it
Reason: I TRY. I compost. I recycle whenever possible. I use green cleaning products on baby toys. But, the day we ran out of hand sanitizer at my first teaching job was the day everyone got pink eye. At another teaching job, I started Lysoling desks after a terrible bout of strep throat. Sometimes I need me some CHEMICALS. Also, I reallllllly want a minivan.
Crunch level: Quaker Oat Bars from Target
Reason: I eat meat. Sometimes I know that it is grass fed…sometimes it’s just the cheapest meat at the store. I eat eggs. Sometimes they come from my awesome neighbor and, yes, they taste better than the store-bought ones. I eat dairy…all of it. I eat gluten…omg so much gluten. I eat sugar. Also agave. Also honey. Also syrup. Also coconut sugar. All the sugars. Even the fake sugars but I don’t like those as much. I do not eat Little Caesars Hot and Ready because that is not food.
Crunch level: FDA approved
Reason: Ok. So I got acupuncture and it was amazing. But, seriously, the term “naturopath” is not allowed in my house because it will start the Doctor on a looooonnnng rant or at least a complete lack of respect. The internet says naturopathy is often lacking in “evidence based medicine.” That’s about all I need, guys. Just gimmie some non-anecdotal evidence. I mean, sure, I rub coconut oil on myself sometimes but it’s because I like smelling like a cookie, not because it will cure ALL my ills.
Which brings us to the biggie…
Crunch level: I WILL NEVER EAT THAT DISGUSTING GRANOLA DON’T EVEN SHOW IT TO ME
Reason: ex-MTV VGs are not medical experts. Even though I had and really didn’t mind chicken pox as a kid, I did miss spring break because of it, so why do kids need to have chicken pox? Chicken pox parties are the LEAST of our worries, though. Here’s the deal, I don’t claim to know things. I’m agnostic. I refuse to commit to knowing much of anything for certain. I can only go off of what I have reasonable proof and/or doubt of. AND VACCINES ARE NECESSARY. I don’t believe anyone is trying to hurt their kid (or anyone else’s if we’re gonna get into herd immunity issues), but this is getting ridiculous, Portland. Get your shit together and do even a LITTLE research on this.
True story: I totally paused writing this to go get a granola bar because all this talk of crunchiness made me really want one. It’s gluten free…and I like it.