When I was pregnant with my oldest, 10 years ago, I started a journey that would change my life. Parenthood AND a journey into the world of “natural” living, green living, whatever you want to call it. Cloth diapers, Attachment Parenting, organic foods, natural fibers, whole foods, natural medicine, reducing exposure to plastics and chemicals, etc. It was an exciting journey.
And particularly in Des Moines at that time – the whole “natural living” movement was just really getting started and I was there for all of it. And I was really, really into it.
And then I had Teddy.
Well, to be fair, I had started getting a little disillusioned before Teddy. First, there’s no possible way to do everything that all of the “experts” recommend. You’d be doing nothing but sprouting, soaking, blending, juicing, growing, drying, distilling, and hand-milling amaranth seeds you grew yourself to make flour for bread you knead by hand using only ingredients grown within a 5 mile radius of your house. And, second, a lot of what the “experts” say isn’t really well-supported by evidence, and too, too many people in the community have a very tenuous grasp on the “why” behind much of what they espouse.
But I was still very comfortable in the NL “world,” and though some people seem to suffer under the burden of believing that they have to be all-or-nothing, I was (and remain) quite comfortable choosing what worked for me and not worrying about being conventional for the rest.
But Teddy has started me on a different branch in the road I started down with my first pregnancy. And it’s a branch that’s been painful to follow at times. A branch that, while leading me in a good direction for me and my family, is also leading me further and further away from the conventional natural living “stuff” with which I am comfortable and familiar.
It’s a path that’s made me feel cut off from most of the people I used to feel I had the most in common with, and left me sort of dangling out here in no-man’s land.
And it’s a path that’s made me shockingly aware of how judge-y many of us in the “natural living” community end up sounding or being. And I hope that this new awareness is helping me to more respectfully honor the choices families make – either because they want to, or they have to.
Hopefully, in the not too distant future, I’ll wind up in a place that feels more comfortable to me than the place I am now. But in the meantime, much like the Pioneers who settled the West, we’re learning as we go what things we can take with us on our new journey and what things are best left by the side of the road.