My kids are all elementary school ages or younger, so why am I composing hypothetical letters to a future daughter-in-law? I confess I’ve worried about this since my boys were babies/toddlers. (No, I don’t like that I have worried and feared as much as I have, but I will confess it as something I want to change and be free of.) There was a time when I had two boys and no hope of having any more children. (Read: I would have no daughters to pass on all I’d learned about mothering. And I was worried my sons would have no interest in learning about food and health as related to children, and so my grandchildren would be raised the way my future daughter-in-law was raised, only.
I now have a daughter, but it still remains that I have two sons and I’m already concerned about how I will relate to a daughter-in-law possibility. I do NOT want to become the notorious negatives–the regular mother-in-law tales of nosiness or disapproval, plus ones related to my being “crunchy,” this funny term for inclinations to all things natural. I am so aware that we are really different from most families that I expect at least one boy will pick a girl really foreign to how we’ve raised our kids, in terms of healthcare especially.
This post is a dialogue with another blog post written by a young blogger who recently wrote about mothers of her male friends who exhibited this “crunchy” uniqueness, among other things (Dear Wanna Be Future Mother-in-Laws). One responding reader called it brutal. I too winced as I read it. Because it is my fear. In short, the college-aged writer found it insulting when moms (eyeing her as a potential mate for their sons), talked to her about essential oils or natural health remedies, natural childbirth and things of that nature. She took it as an insult to her intelligence as well as to her mother for not making the same choices these crunchy moms did. (Now, I’m focusing on one aspect of her blog post, but it really was about other factors as well that I’m not addressing.)
I was not the intended audience as I’m squarely between the stages of this young lady and her mother; I’m years from having datable sons. I realized, whether brutal or fair, this was a real, candid response from a real young woman’s experience. This was a window to how girls in the future may see me. I took it as a time to listen. Then it made me think, and respond.
“Girls laughing” by this ordinary life via Flickr
So, to any girl out there I may meet in the future who may be interested seriously in one of my sons, I want you to understand that this crunchy mama’s desire to talk about the weird alternative ways I raised my sons is not meant as a judgement toward your mother or the choices she made in raising you. If I talk to you about it or try to explain it or teach you some of it, it’s not because I think I need to show you the error of your family’s ways. Instead, the motivation of my heart would be care; you’re walking into a family with very different ways of doing things. You may wonder why! And, sigh, I may be motivated by even fear. I am fearful (again I confess, and I don’t want to be) someone will raise my grandchildren differently than I raised my kids because health was SOOOO hard won. A future daughter-in-law of mine will get a healthy man because of the challenges my husband and I went through to get him to that state.
As a crunchy mama, I may not doubt at all that your mother did a great job with you. But I do know you cannot be an expert on my family’s health needs and genetic make-up. Any children you may have will be 50% the genetic make-up on which I have had to become the expert. Dear future daughter-in-law, there are things you need to know about.
I am a mom who suffered greatly with health problems caused by medicines’ side effects, and my sons were born, came to find later, with two of the three chronic conditions I struggled with. We were a mess from medications I took during pregnancy, delivery, and even years before that had changed my gut health and that formed my sons’ gut health. With baby #1, I found alternative medicine and we slowly climbed out of the miserable place of ill health. It was SOOO hard. I feel like I’ve been to war or hell and back, and we came out victorious with, finally, two healthy boys! And I finally got healthy enough to conceive again and I even got a daughter! And we cannot go back to conventional medicine–our systems do not respond well to it, and we’ve done a lot of research on why.
Dear future daughter-in-law, I want to develop a good relationship with you–so good that you’ll be able to hear my heart about the why behind our unusual choices instead of hearing judgement or think I am questioning your intelligence. I hope you can find the grace to be teachable. Because if you carry my sons child, it will carry this health history.
Photo by Willie Bos via Flickr
And when it comes to childbirth, I will want the best for you. I hope I will be able to communicate it well enough so that you might know why I chose natural childbirth. I suffered for many months, missing the joy of my first baby, due to side effects and consequences of the induction that gave me an (ok, I’ll be real) agonizing 24-hour labor, the multiple rounds of antibiotics, and the IV pain medication I accepted during birth. No, I was not aware that could happen. I wish desperately someone could have prepared me to be fully self-educated on such things and prepare myself to do natural childbirth successfully. I had my other children with midwives with their own birth center, and no pain medication–but with intense education on HOW to deliver naturally.
Without medicines and interventions, I gave birth with joy, skipping around happily after because it was such a better experience in ALL ways. Instead of intervention consequences to wade through for months, I was able to resume normal life and enjoy my babies. I only wish I could have had that for my first one.
My first labor would have been handled differently with care providers well-versed in the mechanisms of natural birth and with commitment and freedom to allow it to happen in its own timing. I wish I could have known the possible consequences of standard hospital procedure on the pace and experience of labor. I wouldn’t wish ignorance on anyone.
If your mother did not deliver you naturally, my story is not a judgement against her. My story is my story. A story of terror that was able to be redeemed as I was supported by awesome caregivers whose education and natural ways healed me and gave me a gracious, loving and nurturing way to avoid the very bad experiences I had in a medication-heavy and intervention-heavy birth.
I wouldn’t wish my bad experiences on anyone, and wouldn’t want anyone I care about walk into that blindly, have similar experiences, and then say, “Why didn’t you warn me?” I believe the more education you receive, the more options you can choose from.
I’m praying already that my being so different/alternative will not be a wedge between me and you, future DIL. I pray for a good relationship so we can talk about such things and hear each other’s hearts instead of judgement.
For any girls out there who have experienced negative interactions with crunchy mamas, I pray you can forgive them for leaping too soon, or too hard, or possibly motivated by an intense, seemingly-irrational level of fear that what they fought through so hard will be lost and that their sons, DILS and grandkids might suffer, all for lack of knowledge.
My family was raised to eat a certain way for a reason; we use alternative medicine for a reason. And the reason was not to cast judgement on you and your family. No, it’s because it worked for us it gave us our health and LIVES back. And that is why you could meet my son and fall in love with him.
I am praying I can manage a relationship with a potential daughter-in-law well and not be motivated by fear, but love. The young lady’s blog post will help me to remember that it’s all about the relationship and appropriate timing.
So, are there any other moms who can relate to any of this?
(Top photo by Emile H via Flickr)