Crunchy Like Me

This past week was World Breastfeeding Week. Cool. There were events around the country (world?) on Saturday where women nursed at 10:30am. The Big Latch On was having an event in NYC, so husband and I decided to make the trek and check it out.

My husband is a good guy. When I told him about the Big Latch On, he was dubious. “So you’re gonna go 30 minutes uptown to feed the baby and then come home?”

We, Sweetie, we.”

“What’s the point?”

I had to explain that we were supporting breastfeeding and could meet other parents. He doesn’t have any Dad friends, so I was mainly doing this for him. (You’re welcome, Husband.)

While we’re on the train, I ask him if he thinks these people are going to be all granola and natural.

He replies he was just thinking that. Sometimes breastfeeding women can be a little granola and crunchy and natural. There’s nothing wrong with this; nature is awesome. Me myself, I like getting hair shaved off of certain places and wearing deodorant. So we started brainstorming how crunchy people there were going to be. “I bet they’ll cloth diaper,” I began

“We do that,” he reminded me.

“Yeah, but I bet they’ll be all sanctimommy about it. We don’t care if other people do it.”

“I bet they do baby led weaning,” he started.

“That doesn’t mean they’re crunchy, baby led weaning is just easier and cheaper than buying pureed baby food. Cave babies did it.”

Husband began to laugh and say, “so what you’re saying is if we do it, it’s not crunchy?”

“Exactly. Black moms aren’t crunchy.”

“Wait. None of you? In all the world, there’s not a single crunchy, tree-hugging Black mom?” (This is asked with an incredulous, dopey look.) Thanks for calling me out and demanding I support statement with evidence, Husband. (Jerk.)

We began to break it down as we passed stop after stop and heard the subway grind to a screeching stop each time. We cloth diaper, but only because we each had sensitive skin as babies. And we don’t wash the diapers ourselves, so we’re not super crunchy. We do love our Bummis though. (These are the covers that prevent leakage from the cloth diapers. They come is super cute designs.)

We breastfeed because it’s good for the baby; and it’s easier to travel with boobs than with a bottle. Yeah, sure we wear the baby, but a stroller is too heavy to take up and down subway stairs. And sure, maybe we did baby led weaning, but that’s just cause the baby didn’t much care for purees, and snatched food off of our plates anyway.

So what does this all mean? It means that some practices that used to just be considered ‘old-fashioned’ are now known as granola. My grandma uses vinegar and baking soda for cleaning, but would I call her crunchy? She’s been doing her cleaning that way for over 50 years. I don’t think Blacks are crunchy, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m sure a variety of ‘crunchy’ habits are used by lots of Black families. I’ve seen many breastfeeding Black mamas. What’s old is new again and all that.

It also means I am crunchier than I thought. I don’t think of myself as a hippie, but I will do what I think is best for my baby and makes our family happy and productive. He’s happy when I hold him and I like having my arms free, so we have a Boba carrier. That’s what parenting breaks down to for me. The toddler is happy and safe and Husband and I are happy and safe. Now if research backs it up and it turns out to be fantastic parenting, all the better.  Parenting is full of failure as it is. I recognize that I make mistakes. What I don’t need, and would venture that no one really needs or wants, is someone judging my parenting choices.

So here’s a crunchy quiz

  1. Do you know what Bummis or Fuzzibunz are?
  2. Did you go back and forth when deciding between a Boba, an Ergo and/or Maya Sling?
  3. Did you give birth at home or in a birthing center?
  4. Do you co-sleep? Have a family bed?
  5. Is this you?
  6. Did you have a doula?
  7. Do you make your own baby food?
  8. Do you buy organic food?
  9. Do you make your own cleaning supplies? (vinegar and baking soda count)

If you answer yes to 2 questions: Crunchy like cooked spaghetti.

If you answer yes to 4 or more questions: Crunchy like semi-moist pretzels.

If you answer yes to 7 or more questions: Crunchy like dried corn flakes.

So how crunchy are you? Do you know any crunchy Black moms? Do you disagree with crunchy moms and think they should just get it together?

12 thoughts on “Crunchy Like Me

  1. This post made me smile! No, I do NOT know other crunchy black moms. I thought that maybe they existed somewhere but when I brought up cloth diapering, all I got was gutt-busting laughs from the women folk around me. I was constantly asked, so seriously, don’t you think you’ve breastfed long enough? By the time I started making my own baby food, they just shook their heads, “here she goes again!” I have crunchy tendencies (yes, I own a composter) but I dont consider myself a hippy type. I was just trying to give my baby a healthy start, and everything I did just seemed to fit my lifestyle. I don’t judge other moms for there choices, and I wish other people didn’t judge me. I’m glad to know there are other crunchy black moms out there! Maybe we can start the trend! P.S. Crunchiness aside…formula and baby food are too expensive! I made homemade baby food and nursed, partly because I just couldn’t stomach paying the money.

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  2. Dried cornflakes, lol. Pretty much all the women of color I know are “crunchy” to some degree. I even have a local crunchy black mom friend (blogger mahoganywaymama). I also participated in the big latch on this weekend. While there, we talked with another black mom who wants to form a local breastfeeding support group “for us”. I do the things I do because I feel they’re more convenient or better for our family, definitely not to be a sanctimommy. I’ve never caught any flack from my family and like to joke that I’m “second or third generation crunchy”.

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    1. @Jessica- Right? Formula prices are high like drugs. And the one jar of baby food I bought the baby didn’t even like.

      @Treesalldance- My family is also pretty supportive. My grandmother was SUPER pro-breastfeeding. She and my mom both did it and I just thought it was regular. If you form the ‘for us’ group, let me know. I’m in.

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  3. I am proud of you. I am not as crunchy as I thought according to your quiz, but I nurses my first child exclusively for 13 months (no bottles). I cannot say it was only because it was best for him. Honestly, it was cheaper than formula.

    I agree, good parenting is what each parent makes the experience. You go girl!

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  4. Semi-moist pretzels here 🙂

    I actually tried really hard to be crunchy. I wanted to be crunchy. And then realized it wasn’t quite for me to go all the way with it. So while I breastfeed, it was for a year with one and 8 months with the other. And we did co-sleep, but with the next one (if there is a next one), I think that will end at 6 months. I made my own baby food for the first one for like 2 months, but with the second, I didn’t even try. But we shop exclusively organic, and both babies loved the baby wraps when they were babies. After a year, we were done with them. Never tried cloth diapers – but we do wash our clothes in only dye-free and fragrance free detergents!

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    1. @momwifelawstudent- Thanks, chica. I think the cost of formula is what helped make the husband so pro-breastfeeding. 🙂

      @gradmommy- I’m impressed you made your own baby food. That was not for me. We use the fragrance free stuff too. My mom got me on it. BTW, I am totally putting my bucket list online now.

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  5. Your list has me beyond “crunchy,” but I prefer to think of myself as a grits chick. I cloth diaper, just like my mama. Had a home birth, just like my mama. Breastfeed just like my mama. I could go on and on. More than anything, I prefer to keep it simple like my forebears and ancestors did. I was gonna mention Mahogany Way, but I see my bloggy friend is already on it up higher in the comments (*waves heeeeyy*)

    Anyhow, embrace your “crunchiness” or whatever you wanna call it, sis. Don’t let racial stereotypes, parenting cliques, and anyone else’s standards make you feel less proud of your family’s decisions – even if you did it because it was evidence-based or more healthful. Brown mamas do it all!

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  6. I think both region and class has a lot to do with this. In Northern California, crunchy is just normal culture. People recognize it’s crunchy, but it’s seen as normal. To not breastfeed or buy organic produce or use non-toxic products, if you are of a certain class, no matter your color, is to invite derision. I would guess that in the South, many of these things are just normal too, as traditions are handed down through the generations (as Anayah said).

    In other parts of the country, however, (and to a lesser extent, in Cali and the South), many of those things are very classed. Blacks folks especially are not privy to intergenerational traditions of simplicity – I’m really thinking of the Northeast. Shopping organic is seen as something folks can do if they have money (a recent study showed that eating healthy DOES cost more money). Making your own baby food is less expensive, but much more time intensive – I stopped because I didn’t have the time anymore. Cloth diapering sounds more time intensive (but I’ve never done it, so I don’t know.) Attachment parenting is mostly embraced by middle-class and upper-classed parents – lower-classed parents typically don’t have the time to devote to attachment parenting. Doulas also cost money – I wanted one in the Northeast when I had my first, but couldn’t afford it. In Cali, I had a midwife in a hospital, but my insurance didn’t cover the total cost of that. Most women cannot afford a doula or a midwife when insurance won’t cover it. Those wraps and slings and carriers aren’t cheap either. I know they don’t have to be bought in stores (I had an African friend who showed me how to wrap up the baby with a $10 piece of fabric from the fabric store) but we’ve been programed. It’s really ironic that Crunchy = money.

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  7. Count me in here as a black crunchy woman and hopefully one day black crunchy mom. You know someone should organize a black crunchy woman/mom meet up somewhere or blog event to see how many of us there are out there

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  8. Ladies is there Anyone in Oklahoma? I am in such a dark place right now ( nothing major just tired of being the only one at LLL meeting and my kid being th only one in the whole school). I soo could use a another crunchy, close to being crunchy, kind of crunchy other mum in OK.

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  9. Yes, crunchy black moms do exist although we are far and few between. I’m from Harlen and now live in Atlanta and fight the daily battle of educating the southern born and raised women around me about being “crunchy”. Thanks for this blog post! FYI I am a crunchy like corn flakes mom, homebirth midwife, and breastfeeding advocate! Check out my website… http://www.mothernaturesbelly.org or http://www.facebook.com/mnaturesbelly

    Blessings

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