A woman scoffed at me today. Yes scoffed. I was walking around the shopping centre with my 5 month old asleep (!!!) in a baby carrier. We met at a crossroads in Aldi, she had her similar aged bub in a pram. She took one look at me, scoffed, and then made a big production about moving her pram around the corner into the next aisle.
Now I don’t know for sure what it was about me she found so offensive. Redheads are often a target of cruelty, however since she didn’t yell out “ranga” at me, I don’t think it was that. No, I instinctively felt it had to do with the baby carrier. I’ve seen that look before. The tuts. The rolled eyes. The “man she’s so lazy, just hold your damn kid, you hippy” look. Once I was trying to wrangle Tom into the carrier when we were waiting to disembark a plane, and a kind eyed woman said “wouldn’t it just be easier to hold him, dear?” like I was some pitiful fool for strapping my kid to my body in the first place. As I clipped the carrier into place, I replied with “Um no. Do you see how I now have 2 free hands? It means I can scratch my arse with both of them, should I feel the need. You can’t buy that kind of freedom.”
Then this evening I happened across an article entitled “Umbilical nonseverance and chickenpox parties: the world of the Crunchy Mamas.” (A simple Google search will take you to the article, should you be interested in reading it.) The author of the article (a man) takes particular offence at a woman breastfeeding her 3 year old at a wedding, labels her a “crunchy mama” (or someone that subscribes to “attachment parenting”), before slamming attachment parenting as a ridiculous parenting style that creates narcissistic adults.
Now just a bit of background, for those not in the know: Attachment parenting is a style in which parents recognise their child’s emotional and physical needs and then respond sensitively to those needs… So just parenting, basically. Attachment parenting is characterised by demand feeding, co-sleeping, wearing your baby (for increased closeness) and using your intuition and following cues from your baby versus scheduled feeding or crying it out. Ultimately attachment parents believe they are creating secure, independent and happy little people. That’s it, in its very basic form. I could go on, but boring. Go and Google it if you want to know more.
Now, I don’t feel like anyone has to be pigeonholed into a particular style of parenting. Honestly, I just feel like if it works and feels right for you, just do whatever you need to do to survive. I’m not gonna bash another woman’s parenting choices, like this dickhead has decided to do. (How this woman breastfeeding her 3 year old at a wedding impacts him in any way is beyond me.) But I like the general idea of attachment parenting. It makes sense to me to pick up my baby when he cries, to breastfeed him whether for hunger or comfort, and to co-sleep to keep him calm and sleeping for longer as well as allowing me to have greater periods of rest. The way I parent isn’t for everyone. Hell, some days it isn’t even for me. I would love to stretch out in bed by myself, sleep the whole night, drink wine whenever I wanted without thinking about whether or not I had enough time before the next feed. But we do things the way we do them because they work for us.
Attachment parenting is something I had heard of before and if I HAD to subscribe to a parenting label, it’s probably that. And therefore I can only assume I’d be referred to as a Crunchy Mama. However, I’d never heard the term before and so gritted my teeth and continued reading this ridiculous piece of journalism to find out what constitutes a mama being labelled crunchy.
This man references The Stir website which lists 20 reasons why someone may be a Crunchy Mama and they are:
1. You have a chicken coop in your backyard, and you’re not a farmer.
-What the fuck does this have to do with parenting? Literally nothing. I have childless, non-farmer friends who have chicken coops. I don’t have a chicken coop, though now it’s been suggested that sounds like a great idea. Free eggs!
2. You love a good chickenpox party.
– If everyone just vaccinated their fucking kids this wouldn’t even be an issue. This is pretty much the only parenting decision I will judge you for, because it DOES effect me, my son and the rest of society. If you don’t vaccinate because you believe fabricated reports that it causes autism (like that’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you) you are quite frankly, a fucking moron.
3. Scoring raw milk is your idea of a thrill.
4. You and your husband haven’t slept alone in your bed since your first child was born.
-This one is probably true. Tom has more than likely spent more time in our bed than out of it. And you know why? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY PLACE HE FUCKING SLEEPS. And even then we’re pushing it, he wriggles around and sings to himself all the time. I literally haven’t slept longer than 4 hours in a row for 6 months. It’s 2 hours or less most nights. I got shit to do and sleep to be had. Into our bed he comes.
5. Your children indicate their need to nurse … in full sentences.
– I’m not going to bash the choices of other women. Breastfeed your kid for however long you like. The World Health Organisation recommends up until 2 years of age, but by all means let’s take the advice of keyboard warriors and social commentators who’ve decided it’s more socially appropriate to stop at the age of 1 or less. Now I don’t know how long we’ll breastfeed for. I don’t think it’s something you just decide, there’s a whole myriad of reasons as to why women (and babies) want to stop breastfeeding. But I do know that on Tom’s first birthday, I’m not just going to say “sorry buddy, the milk bar is closed” and then refuse to feed him because some ignoramus finds it offensive.
6. You use terms like “EBF” and assume everyone knows what you mean.
-To be fair, most of the people I talk to regularly do know what that means. For those who don’t, it means Exclusively Breastfed. Mums have abbreviations for everything. FDC (Family Day Care). BLW (Baby-Led Weaning). FFS (For Fuck’s Sake).
7. You coordinate your wardrobe around wraps, slings, and other baby-wearing devices. (ie, you “wear your baby.”)
– Well this is just good fashion sense. And kids are damn heavy.
8. Your kids whip out kale chips at playgroup while the other kids eat Oreos.
– My kids will be whipping out whatever we’ve got in the cupboard. And I can tell you right now they’re more likely to be Oreos than kale chips.
9. Their diets are gluten-free AND Paleo.
– Most days my internal monologue goes something like this: FEED ME ALL THE BREAD AND CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE.
10. You know some really good placenta recipes.
11. You not only use cloth nappies, you make them (and wash them) yourself.
– Why anyone would scoff at this is beyond me. I don’t do it out of pure laziness, but it makes total sense. It’s cheaper, environmentally friendly, and if it weren’t for the increased risk of getting shit on my hands I’d totally do it.
12. The only school for your kids is homeschool.
– Uhh no. The minute he’s old enough, that kid is off to mainstream school. I’m counting down the days to having even an hour of freedom.
13. You use “family cloth” instead of toilet paper.
14. You drive a Prius.
15. You have a composter and you use it.
– I’m starting to feel like this guy has something against the environment.
16. Your children aren’t vaccinated and never will be.
– Imma say it again. EVERYONE JUST FUCKING VACCINATE YOUR KIDS.
17. There’s pretty much nothing you can’t make yourself from bug spray to cleaning supplies to granola.
18. You believe coconut oil and breast milk can cure pretty much anything.
– This is just good science.
19. You use a menstrual cup.
20. You talk about transitioning your children into their own bed … about the time they’re ready to go to college
– I often joke about this as I weep for my own space. However, I’m yet to meet a 10 year old that doesn’t sleep in their own bed.
As a so-called attachment parent, I expected to rate higher on the “Crunchy Mama” scale, however since only a few of those statements had anything to do with parenting or a persons relationship with their child, oh and IT WAS WRITTEN BY A COMPLETE WANKER and then shared by an equally ignorant journalist, perhaps it’s unsurprising.
I think lots of people think attachment parenting is something for “hippy earth mothers” who don’t shave their pits, take vegan snacks to parties, use enviro-bags, wear tie dyed pants and make their own soap. Who the fuck cares? I’m an attachment parent and I enjoy wearing floaty pants, I don’t wash my hair often enough, I work in mental health (apparently we’re all a little bit left of centre) and use coconut oil most days, whether in my food, skin or hair. I also like expensive perfumes, my car uses petrol, cheese and wine are my primary food groups and some days it’s a tough choice between Netflix and nature.
To those who are criticising the attachment parents or Crunchy Mamas, let me educate you on a few things. Baby carriers and wraps have many uses. Maybe I am lazy, like I think the women in Aldi felt I was. But I wear my baby for lots of reasons. Because he’s calmer when being worn. Because the kid weighs over 7kgs and I don’t want to lug him around in my arms all day. It allows me two free hands. I can eat! HE SLEEPS IN IT. It hides all the milk/vomit/poo stains on your shirt. Its uses are endless.
You can be environmentally friendly, teach your kids about responsibility (e.g. chicken coop), grow your own vegetables and still vaccinate.
Breastfeeding is natural. It’s what my body was designed to do. And just because society has sexualised breasts, doesn’t make breastfeeding a dirty act. So guess what? I’m gonna do it. IN PUBLIC. And yes that includes at weddings if need be. And seriously, I dare you to approach me with disdain whilst I do it. Insert brelfie. (That’s breastfeeding selfie.) And if you’re offended by this, good for you. Get huffy and indignant about something that literally affects you in no way, shape or form.