Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #1: ON EATING

Too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream.* I’ve been turning this particular idea over and over in my head lately in terms of parenting. As a new parent, especially at the ripe old age of 35, I feel like I’m redefining who I am quite a lot these days. I’m suddenly doing the doggie paddle in the deep end of the pool, and I’m surprised to find I’m a whole lot more conservative than I thought I’d be in terms of parenting… although maybe it’s all relative.

Let’s back up. Pre-Willem, I was a working girl with lots of hobbies and passions; I wasn’t exactly interested in “climbing the ladder” work-wise, but I had been successful at growing my career and had consistently been able to support myself since grad school (it IS possible to survive on $1000 a month). These days, I’m no longer supporting myself, putting money into my retirement fund every month, putting away savings… That last sentence cannot be emphasized enough. It is extremely weird to go from being a very self-sufficient person to being dependent on another person and bringing in just a little extra salary from my very part-time (yet very fulfilling) job.

100430. fancy hotel room. (i did not use the tub).

Another work trip, another fancy bath tub I’ll never bathe in.

100408. just another day at the office.

The candy ring signifies that SUPER IMPORTANT WORK is being done.

201404. Urban Times Article.

And my current work (in addition to being Willem’s mom).

And back then? I did ALL sorts of stuff. You know, just for fun. Whenever I felt like it. Oh, the luxury! Knitting and gardening and canning and baking and reading and and and… ALL sorts of stuff. These things are still high up on the priority list for me, but by necessity, they must fit around my primary new role: mom.

Baby K has arrived.

That one time Willem was born.

Yup. Mostly these days, I’m a mom to a wonderful little human who gets cooler and cuter and more amazing every week. Sometimes every day. It makes my heart hurt to think about it too much. In a good way.

This guy.It’s even weirder, though, being all old and stuff and suddenly trying to figure out where you fit in this entirely new world of mom-hood. The only thing keeping me going is the hope that every other mom is probably trying to figure out the same damn thing – where they fit, who they relate to most, and how to navigate this new terrain. Even if they’re fronting and pretending like they’ve got it all figured out.

20140816. Visiting grandma and grandpa.I was going to document some of the extreme views I’ve heard come out of people’s mouths lately re: parenting, but I realized two things: 1) that’s way more negativity than I want to perpetuate in my life and 2) I don’t really want to give their words more power than they have obviously already had over me.

So instead I give you the first installment of “being a parent” thus far, a la Chris, Christie, and Willem, aka “too hippie to be mainstream, too mainstream to be hippie.” I’m guessing many parents fall into this category, but, just like bad talk radio, the extremists on one side or the other drown us out with all their shouting and fervent insistence.


ON EATING: Baby led weaning? Not exactly for us, not yet, at least. In theory, it’s awesome: teach your babies to chew before swallowing, feed themselves, eat what you’re eating, etc. In practice? Not so much. It turns out Willem is very, very good at shoving food into his mouth. Giant chunks of food. After the first couple of tries led to immediate gagging, coughing, and (yesterday morning) puking, I’m sticking with purees and some very limited feed-himself options (green beans and super soft sweet potato sticks are big hits so far).

He also REALLY REALLY likes food, and he totally gets the whole spoon in mouth thing. He opens his mouth wide like a little baby bird any time the spoon comes near, and it’s adorable. I want to celebrate the fact that he’s interested in trying a lot of new flavors at this age and not place limits on that because he’s too busy dropping his food on the floor, choking on it, and getting frustrated because he would actually love to EAT EAT EAT.

Lunch yesterday was some green beans, sweet potato sticks, and a pureed beet/spinach/lentil medley. And he loved it.

ON BREASTFEEDING: Dudes, breastfeeding is awesome. It really and truly is, and I am so glad I had help getting through those first 2 weeks 10 weeks of utter, toe curling pain and exhaustion. With that said, I cringe when well-meaning breastfeeding professionals make off-hand comments about “how I’ll handle the disappointment if so-and-so gives up on breastfeeding.” Like it has anything to do with them, you know? I lived through those first horrible months, and I can tell you it was sheer will, stubbornness, nipple cream, and a lot of encouragement that got me through. I totally, totally wanted to quit and almost did, like, 20 times. I have absolutely zero judgment for anyone who decides breastfeeding is just not working for them, I guess is what I’m saying.

The takeaway? Mamas, just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t feel bad for not being “enough” of anything or to anyone. Probably no one’s even paying attention to how you’re feeding your baby, and if they are, screw ’em. If it’s working for you, go for it. In the end, your way IS the best way – for you and your baby.

NEXT UP: SLEEP. Or lack thereof. Oh, yes. We’re going there.

*Stolen from my brilliant friend, Nikki, who’s in the same boat, parenting-wise.

4 thoughts on “Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #1: ON EATING

  1. I love your philosophy and wish I had known someone like you when my kids were little. instead, I raised my kids feeling like such a failure at every turn because I wasn’t (couldn’t) do things the way my mom and other relatives thought I should. I loved your blog before Willem was born and I love it now. You are evolving into exactly who you’re supposed to be and it’s not forced, you’re letting it happen naturally (with thought, of course)… and I love watching it happen… “even when you go there”… anyhow, I think your a breath of fresh air and I really enjoy reading about you, Chris and Willem. Thank you for your honesty.

    • That is really kind and sweet of you. I do feel like I can’t imagine my life any other way right now, and it is a really sweet little life these days. I think, in my case anyway, I have always been my harshest critic. I just want to do things well, to know what I’m doing, to be good at it. But in parenting, I really don’t think any of those things apply! Like, how are you “good” at being a parent to a young baby, other than the obvious changing, feeding, cuddling when crying, etc.? Willem gets all happy when I walk into the room, kicks his legs maniacally, and starts babbling away – that should be enough proof that I’m doing a passable job, right?

      It’s so easy to feel like you’re doing things wrong, though, or that everyone else has it all figured out. I think that’s why I get so annoyed when people get all know-it-all-y with other moms; it’s like, can we all just be REAL and admit we haven’t shaved our legs in a week and a half, or our baby has been waking up every hour the last four nights sobbing and we have no idea why, or we had tortilla chips and Nilla Wafers for dinner last night (true story)?

      Lots of love to you and yours.

  2. Great article! I especially agree with you on the baby led weaning part. First of all, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies at this age don’t “chew” their food, they “gum” them, which is why they also recommend sticking to purées and such. Liam did awesome with food in the beginning and he was very eager and now he is rejecting foods. Will just keep trying I guess.

    • Thanks for reading! And ooo, I really hope Willem doesn’t decide he hates food. I love that he’s so adventurous so far. I guess if he does, we just roll with it, right? 🙂 Willem doesn’t know how to drink from anything other than my boobs, if it makes you feel an better. He was great with a bottle until he was about 12 weeks old, and ever since then, it’s like he’s forgotten what to do with it.

      The gagging aspect of baby led weaning just freaks me out too much. I can’t do it. Meal time should not get my adrenaline pumping and my armpits sweating! I’ll keep letting him feed himself little bits of stuff that seems the least gag inducing and giving him homemade purees and go from there. Today’s lunch was a major hit: organic pumpkin with mashed bananas and a little pumpkin pie spice. I wanted to eat it!

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