A few days ago, someone named me as one of their favorites for natural and/or unconventional parenting. I was flattered, of course, but it got me thinking. Why should what we do be considered unconventional? I think it is sad that the way we raise our children mark us as “different” amongst our parenting peers. I never set out to be some kind of “alternative” mama. My evolution into a “crunchy” mama has been slow and mostly unintentional. The things that push me into that category are done because they make my life easier. I am just doing what makes sense for my children and myself.
The more I sat and thought about this the more it bothered me. Really? What I am doing, which developed in the most natural way possible, is considered “unconventional” by most people. Which I find odd because things that deem us “alternative” and “unconventional” should in fact be the norm. We should be considered terribly boring parents.
I’ve been called a breastfeeding advocate as well. Is it really unconventional to use your breasts for their intended purpose? Breastfeeding should be the normal way to feed a baby. Formula should be the exotic alternative, the choice taken because you can’t feed your baby any other way. It should be weird to see a baby bottle, and when a child sees a woman feeding a baby a bottle on a bench in the park she should be asking her parents “what is that mommy doing with that baby?”
It should be normal to breastfeed as long as the mother/child collective chooses to. It should be weird to hear someone say they weaned their baby before they can even crawl. And you know what? It should be completely unheard of and horrifying to cut bits off of or poke holes in another human being without their consent. If it was it would save us a whole lot of regret and heartache.
It should be normal to want to spend as much time as possible with your kids. It should be completely average to think that your kids are awesome and unique people that will learn and grow in their own individual ways. It should be weird to hear someone say “I would go crazy if I had to spend all day with my kids.” It should be downright strange to think that all kids learn the same way and at the same pace.
I don’t understand why I am a weird parent because I research and agonize over whether or not to vaccinate my children, or because I want to keep my eighteen month old rear-facing in the car. Or even because I prefer to snuggle and wear my babies instead of keeping them in a little plastic bucket that is transferred from house to car to stroller. And most of all, the fact that I worry about our parenting decisions, that I think about how my words and actions will affect my children, the fact that I choose to devote my time and energy to help my children grow into good, kind, responsible people should not make me “different”.