The other day I was chatting with one of my friends whom I lovingly refer to as a “granola mom”. The way we view motherhood and parenting differs and while I feel she is a granola mom she considers my parenting a little more old-fashioned. There are no disputes or hard feelings between us, in fact we laugh about it and enjoying comparing parenting techniques. When you think about it we may have different paths and techniques but in the end we both want the same thing for our children; for them to become happy, healthy, well adjusted, contributing members of society who aren’t jerks.
When I found out I was expecting I didn’t run to the local bookstore or library to grab all the latest books or jump on Google to gather information on parenting techniques and practices. I figured I would deal with parenting issues as they arose. I felt as though my parents did a great job raising my siblings and myself; I could just use their parenting style and make some minor tweaks to suit my family.
When I attended my first playgroup I realized things had changed since I was a child. There are a lot of new views on raising a child, some I agree with and some I do not. Many times I sat in playgroup listening to other mothers explain success and difficulties they were having with the latest parenting innovation. I would bobble head nod giving the illusion I knew what they were discussing and later that night I would be on Google trying to figure out what the heck they were talking about.
The first parenting difference between my friend and I was when we were moving our babies from formula to solid foods, my son was eating everything my husband and I ate by about seven months. Right around this time my friend asked if I would like to get together to have a “baby food making party.” I must have looked like a guppy fish when she asked me this, my mouth fell open and I remember laughing asking if this was really a thing. I like parties but this did not sound like the kind of party I enjoyed before I had my son. She said it was a big thing now and that she was really passionate about making her own organic purees. While I fully support her and am jealous of the dedication she had to creating all her own organic purees I also knew my son had put the dog’s tail in his mouth earlier that morning and I had once seen him eat a piece of dirt when we were gardening. I guess you could consider the dirt organic. I explained to her that my son never really ate purees; we went straight to little pieces of whatever we were having. It was her turn to be the guppy.
The next parenting difference we had was about our stances on dirt. I am not the disinfecting mom. I live on a small farm and have a toddler…our life is filled with dirt and icky things. We have taken my son frog catching and he feeds our goats seeds from his hands. Each year my husband and I grow a large garden and our son loves helping in garden, I think for him the garden resembles the largest sandbox he’s ever seen and he loves playing in the dirt. I follow the belief that soil helps plants and vegetables grow how could it not help my tiny human grow? My friend on the other hand is very germ conscience. She lets her child out to play but follows along closely with wipes and sanitizer. Her child can feed our goats but then has to immediately stop and wash their hands. I ensure my son washes his hands when we go inside but we do not stop playing at regular intervals to wash hands. My son baths each night and if we are outside all day playing in the dirt by bath time he is pretty dirty. I used to ask my mom why in all our candid pictures from when we were kids do we look dirty? My mom used to laugh and tell us that we started each day clean and ended each day clean but everything in between was a guessing game. My friend grew up in the city and is always horrified by that story. Her children always looks clean and well cared for while at times my son looks like a feral child.
And while we are both following different guidelines we are both achieving exactly what we had set out to do as parents we are raising our children to become happy, healthy, well adjusted, contributing members of society who aren’t jerks.
Christina Komives is sales manager for The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.