Life Lately – On Values Versus Connection

March 15, 2018

a little boy with a stick in the woods

I once read that motherhood (or parenthood really) is a long process of letting go. A gap that continues to widen as our babies grow and become more independent. And that always resonated with me – visually – I can just see it happening. First of all, I still can’t get over the fact that my body actually grew a baby but symbolically a child’s independence starts the day he is born. Then the act of cutting the cord, of weaning, of crawling, standing, walking…it’s a physical progression but also a symbolic one. One that makes me swell with pride and cry with the bigness of it all.

Food or Friends

I remember with my first baby I was in control and so in my zone. I breastfed him well past a year and I made all his food from scratch. And it wasn’t a question of – can he eat that – or I wonder whats for dinner….Oh god no, I had it all planned. The world was his organic, non-GMO oyster and I was serving it to him on a silver platter. But then something happened. He grew up. He started going to school and making friends and going to other peoples houses and all of a sudden things got a little tricky.

a boy with a handful of sticks in the woodsI remember one time, when my son was 3, he was offered a banana at a relatives house and his response was, “Is it organic?” I mean, I was so proud of him but so embarrassed at the same time. I also realized that I was learning a new dance. And it was called it’s inevitable, your kid is going to eat foods that are not organic, how are you going to handle it!?

For me, here’s the thing. I value eating organic and making healthy and informed choices about the food we eat – but at the cost of potentially insulting friends and family? This was new to me.

Mixed Messages

Over the past 4 or so years, we continue to talk about food with the kids but I also see mixed messages. We go out Trick-Or-Treating and then we take it all away. We tell the kids ice cream is bad for their bellies and their brains and then we nod to say okay at a friends birthday party. Or we teach them that white bread is like sugar. It makes our energy go wild and then makes us feel sad but then turn around and hand them a hotdog in a bun at a family cookout.

long shadows, a mom and her boys jumping in the airSo what’s the deal?. Well a couple of things actually. First, I recognize that this is another stage of me letting go. Long gone are the days when I had an organic mashed sweet potato, an organic $5 avocado and a biodynamic banana in my bag for the kid’s dinner at a social gathering. And a big hello to birthday parties, social events, sleepovers, cookouts, outings, new friends and old AND a lot more encounters with…food.

And here’s what’s on the line. Ostracizing ourselves with questions like, Is that banana organic? Are those hotdogs 100% grassfed? Or excuse me, do those chicken nuggets have canola oil in them? I mean maybe some people feel comfortable asking those types of questions and I guess it depends on the situation but for a regular ol’ come over for dinner type of gathering, or birthday party, let’s be honest, it’s a little awkward.

It’s also a little awkward to BYO a full spread to every party, cookout, dinner or event. And when I say a little I mean a lot.

Do WHAT You Can WHEN You Can

So this is where we are. I am a firm believer that it’s not the thing you do once and a while that is going to kill you. It’s the thing you do everyday. We put wholesome, healthy, organic, real food out for our kids at breakfast, lunch and dinner and so when we have the occasional party or social event we are okay with making exceptions.

two boys playing with sticks on a hillWhy? Because to me, I value family, friendships and potential friendships more than I value if my kid ate a handful of non-organic grapes at his friends house or a slice of Dominos at a birthday party.

I also think it’s a great way to talk about choices we are making as a family. Although sometimes that backfires like when I told the kids there is poison paint in M&Ms or bad chemicals like BHT in Apple Jacks, a chemical added for freshness that may trigger ADHD. And then they tell their teachers and friends at school that M&Ms have paint in them and cereal has poison in it and that becomes a bigger discussion.

Live to LIVE, Not To Avoid Foods

a little boy playing with a stick in some leavesI think what’s more valuable as a life lesson is to understand the difference between foods and not be afraid of living. I don’t want my kids to fear food or to prioritize food over life experience. Just as much as I believe to my core that clean food is best, I also just as strongly believe a conversation with an old friend or watching a movie with your Dad shouldn’t be contingent upon whether the cheese they put out is raw-pastured or not.

Real food, organic food, biodynamic practices, pastured meats and humane practices is what it’s all about.  What is also just as real is connecting with people and having my kids connect with their peers. To learn to say thank you or no thank you when offered a banana. To enjoy ethnic foods and the beauty of diversity. To be brave and taste new things. I don’t want them to prioritize food over connection. And if that means having a hotdog with a bun here and there, I’m okay with that.

What do you do?

(Thanks to Monkey & Squirrel for these beautiful photos!)

Check out my pantry staples and how to read labels when buying chicken!

Xo, lisa

By Lisa

Lisa is the founder of This Organic Girl. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!

6 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ashley

    Love this post and this perspective. I have little ones and we are learning to balance the same issues. We always want to do it with love and grace – in how we feed and teach our littles ones and how we interact with others. Amen to all of this and thank you for your wonderful blog.

    1. Reply

      thisorganicgirl

      Hi Ashley! Thanks so much for your comment! I got a lot of feedback that “it only gets harder” so cheers to love and grace. I like that.

  2. Reply

    Heather Beaudreau

    Gahhhh! This has been such a struggle for us. But what makes things extra tricky is having children with real food intolerances and gut issues that we can’t afford to be very lenient with food choices for to risk them getting sick or bad rashes. So, we bring our own “healthier” cupcakes to birthday parties and have them skip the pizza and eat at home instead, before or after the party. We get a TON of funny looks and a lot of “huh? No pizza? No cake? No soda?” But, I’m pretty used to it now. The hardest part is meals with family who don’t want to learn why we do things the way we do. And honestly, our restrictions are so complicated and broad that I can understand how my mom can’t keep up. But, it also doesn’t help that she doesn’t want to listen to us when we try to explain our reasons. She thinks if it’s Gluten free- that’s all that matters and it must be healthy. ????
    Anyway- we do make occasional exceptions when there really are no other options. But we try to make those times few and far between.

    1. Reply

      thisorganicgirl

      Hi Heather! Thanks so much for weighing in. Sounds like you and your family have a great game plan in place. I agree, it’s a totally different ball game with intolerances and allergies. If that was our situation too this post would look a whole lot different. I love that you are standing up for your family. Thanks for being an example!

  3. Reply

    Sara

    I wholeheartedly agree with “do what you can when you can”. To me, it’s more important that my girls have a healthy relationship with food then to scrutinize everything they eat. All things in moderation, right? My six-year old knows some things are just not things we eat and she turns them down. For that, I’m really proud of her. But, on the flip side of that I also know she gets treats at birthday parties and playdates that she knows she’ll never get at home.

    1. Reply

      thisorganicgirl

      Yesterday my 6-year-old was offered some water when we went over to play – he told her he doesn’t drink out of plastic. I mean is there a word for proud and embarrassed!? Six is such a beautiful and honest age! Thanks for sharing!

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