Monday, October 15, 2012

I love kale, Mommy

Our journey towards a healthier, more sustainable, simpler life really began in conjunction with our parenting journey. Everyone tells you a child changes your life, and oh boy - does it ever. However, its not just the sleepless nights, the acute knowledge that this little person depends entirely on you for their very survival, or the realization that Friday nights are now often spent passed out on the couch at 9 pm from exhaustion rather than booze. For us, it highlighted the need for more conscious choices in every area of our life - how we spent our time, the food we choose to eat, the lessons we pass on to our babies.

We took on each new challenge as it came and luckily, we've been on the same page when it comes to how we want to raise our children - the examples we want to set, the way we shape how they spend their time, what we put on their plates.  It hasn't been easy - many, many people have looked at us like we're crazy because most of our choices have been somewhat unconventional. We've received criticism for everything from using cloth diapers, to sending our child to a Montessori school, to not taking him to McDonalds. By no means are we the most crunchy-granola parents - rather, we parent by instinct and common sense and eschew parenting labels and categories. However, we have done things differently than our parents did, and than many of our friends currently do. Its difficult not to wonder sometimes, are we doing this wrong? It feels right, but when others around you give you the ol' raised eyebrow and skeptical questions ("you don't give your baby baby food? You just give him, like, people food? Right away? Doesn't he CHOKE? Isn't that DANGEROUS?"), its hard not to be consumed with self-doubt.

Lately though, I've really started to see the effects of some of our choices and I'm so pleased. When my 3 year old says to me, "I LOVE kale, mommy", somehow I know that even though he will eventually eat at McDonalds and he'll have too much candy at Halloween, that the seeds have been sown for him to have a healthier life than many of his peers. He knows the names of vegetables and that they come from a garden. He watches me make yogurt and understands that it comes from milk, which comes from a cow. I can ask him to get me some basil from the garden and he knows where it is and how to pick it.  He tramps around with Jay in the garden, wearing his galoshes and begging to help water the plants, harvest the food, clean up the garden for the upcoming winter. He's proud when the food he helped grow and pick shows up on his plate. I believe this is why he is willing to try new tastes and flavors, even though he won't care for everything.

Its so gratifying to watch him grow up this way and to know that we've played a part in shaping his world-view. That we've filled his little body with good food and the knowledge that a healthy diet will make him grow strong. That not only has my choice to work outside of the home and send him to a Montessori school not damaged him, its helped him to thrive and develop a love of learning. By no means do we have this parenting gig figured out, and we certainly don't think our way is the "right" way for everyone. On the contrary, there are an infinite number of ways to parent. We are just so happy to see the connections our big little guy is making, particularly in understanding nature, food and the environment, and at the end of the day its nice to feel that you're doing something right. 

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