Confessions of a Hippie Mama

I sometimes refer to myself as a ‘hippie mama’, or a ‘crunchy granola mom’. The terms are a sort of short-hand way to tell you something about who I am. For example, I cloth diaper, breastfeed and babywear. I buy organic produce at my local farmer’s market, and grow a vegetable garden. I bake my own bread and opt for ketchup in glass bottles over my husband’s protests. I consider myself a feminist and a pacifist. I subscribe to Mothering magazine and my kids listen to a lot of Raffi.

However, one mama can only be so crunchy, you know? So, today, I am going to share with you the many ways that I am not such a hippie mama after all.

1. I hate camping. Hate. It. I was a Girl Guide for 12 long years, and I’ve done my fair share. I’ve camped in tents and cabins and snow caves and under the stars. I have washed my hair in a lake and eaten my breakfast standing up because there was no dry surface. Now when other people go camping I search out a nearby motel, with warm beds and running water.

2. I do not own a pair of Birkenstocks, and I never have.

Some of my non-Birkenstock footwear

3. I listen to country music, or show tunes or catchy pop songs. The easier to sing along with the better. I do not enjoy Bob Dylan, although I am sure he has a broad influence and revolutionized music as we know it. Or something.

4. I dress my children in sports-themed clothing, well before they are actually able to make such decisions for themselves. Why? Because I think they look cute.

Impressionable children, being indoctrinated into a sports-crazed culture

5. I have been known to shop at Walmart. I looked everywhere else for a good, affordable plastic diaper pail, and only Walmart came through. While I do avoid big box stores whenever possible, sometimes they really do have the best prices and selection.

6. I eat meat, and I like it. I also eat wheat and dairy and occasionally consume high-fructose corn syrup. Because sometimes? Mama needs a Coca Cola fix.

The barbecue, on which we cook meat

7. I send my child to full-day preschool, and I plan to enroll her in public school.

8. I own a lot of baby gear. Including the playard, otherwise known as a playpen, or baby jail. My kids didn’t like it much, but it sure came in handy when we did some home renovations.

Hannah doing some hard time while new railings are installed in our house

9. I am excessively law-abiding, and a total people-pleaser. This means that I’m afraid to even write a strongly worded letter to an elected representative. Attending a demonstration, or even jay-walking, are so far outside of my comfort range I cannot even tell you.

10. We live in the suburbs, and have no desire to move back to the land or to a more urban setting. Yes, it’s sprawly, but it mostly works for us.

The side yard
Suburban sprawl, also known as our side yard

Sometimes I worry that people are going to read about how I have no TV and I knit and I needle felt, and feel judged. Or that I am engaged in a one woman game of ‘hippier than thou’. I am not. I do the things I do because I enjoy them. If you don’t enjoy them, it’s fine by me. It’s also cool if you’re a vegetarian who wears Birkenstocks and loves to camp. As long as we can be tolerant and understanding, we can join together as one happy tribe, I say.

Unless, you know, you’re not rooting for ‘Dad’s Team’. Because Jacob and I feel that’s sort of a deal-breaker. 😉

How about you? Any deep, dark secrets you’d like to confess? I’d love it if you played along!

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  1. A little balance in life is a good thing, I always say! You know, the thing about the suburbs is funny… Theoretically, if one is really truly environmentally aware blah blah blah but needs to live in the city, one would sell one's home and move into an apartment which is as small as possible in the heart of the urban-dense city, then walk everywhere and not own a vehicle (use the car co-op only when absolutely necessary). And yet, some of the crunchy-granolaest families I know are 'burb livers. I only know one family which lives this "ideal". Just goes to show, we all do what we can, but pobody's nerfect. 🙂

  2. I eat meat. My husband could eat mostly meat and white bread if given a chance. I shop at Walmart because it is handy (I live very rural) and it is very affordable. Of course, I don’t buy everything from there. I walk most places in the village (unless it is really cold), but I have to drive everywhere else. And that, is at least a 25 minute jaunt down the highway – this is why we bough a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle.

    I watch tv. My children watch tv. Emma (4) is soooo into pop music, thankfully it is Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson for now. But, she is flirting with Lady Ga Ga and BEP, and that sort of frightens me a bit.

    I grow what will fit in my penut sized back yard and hang dry my clothes, when it isn’t -40. I have cloth grocery bags and reuse my plastic until they are dead. I do the best with what I have. I live by the motto, once you know better, you should do better. And, I do my best to do better. And, I don’t judge you for your crafty ways….I too took up knitting and sewing at about the same time and without evening knowing you had too.
    .-= Heather´s last post ..A Village Night Out =-.

  3. This is why I love your blog, Amber: you’re keeping it real … in the suburbs. I, too, am a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering, baby-wearing mama, and I love shopping at the farmers’ market (when I can afford it), and I aspire to eat only local, free-range meat, and I love reading the many mommy bloggers out there who inspire me with their even-more crunchy-granola lifestyles. But sometimes, I’m reading along on one of my favorite blogs, and I’m blindsided when the author lobs one out of left field about how she’s making her family go completely vegan or another writes about how she never stores any of her food in plastic (what *does* she store sandwiches in then, I wonder?). So I come back to you for my reality check 😉
    And as for my dirty secret: I went back to work three months after my son was born, even though I’m now living in Canada and *most* women get up to a year’s maternity leave. It sucked, I didn’t want to, but I wasn’t under contract, and hadn’t been in my job for very long, and I was sure I was going to be replaced. Still, when most other Canadians hear me say this, they get a look on their faces that would make you think I have bugs crawling out of my eyes.
    .-= Sarah´s last post ..Now we are six =-.

  4. Carrie La Porte says:

    Hmmm well i made my own baby food, did cloth diapers, breast-fed my last child until he was three, all that good stuff BUT I still march in protest marches, sign petitions and go dow to city hall and my MP’s off ice t make my voice heard. Cloth diapers and recycling is meaningless if you are willing to just sit in your hippy haven without doing anything about our governmental raping of our lands and watersheds.
    My latest things have been 1) last year: protesting about Shell’s attempt to mine coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters 2)trying to block the Enbridge piepeline which would cross three watersheds.

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion, Carrie. I am really glad that you visited.

      Having said that, I am not sure that you understood the tone of the post. It was meant to be light-hearted, fun, and confessional. Not a chance to engage in criticism of others.

      I think it’s fabulous that you’re speaking up for your beliefs. The world would be a better place if more people did that. However, we have to understand that we all have different abilities, strengths and comfort levels. The truth is that I am working on this. I write far more letters to my MP and MLA than I used to, but each time I do it I still feel nauseous and can’t sleep that night. I am socially anxious, and it is not something I am proud of. Your words verged on an attack when you implied that our actions are meaningless unless we are marching, and I don’t feel that’s entirely fair. I want to keep this space safe and comfortable for everyone.

  5. schoolofmom says:

    I love that you posted this! I’m an attachment parenting mama (I didn’t circ my son! We co-slept FOREVER! Breastfed FOREVER! Have 5, count ’em, 5 baby carriers!) but not a very crunchy one. I stopped hanging out on AP boards because I felt like people thought you weren’t doing enough if you didn’t do everything. That sort of perfectionism is killing. When people keep it real like you, it makes the crunchy stuff more approachable and achievable too. 🙂

  6. I do most of those things too. That said, my hubby isn’t a huge fan of our regular farmers market trips because there are too many ‘hippies’ so I guess that means I’m not one either (he also complains about all the strollers which should indicate that there aren’t all that many hippies but he’s not one for accuracy).

  7. Cassaundra says:

    yes Amber you’re right, it is NOT helpful to slam people who are trying the best they can simply because they have different strengths. I LOVED your post! There are a lot of things I do that are kinda extreme, like I’m just learning to drive at age 38, I’ve been walking everywhere for years. So, my carbon foot print is small in that way. However, because of my kids’ skin conditions, and the fact that in my neck of the woods, they are WAY CHEAPER, I have used disposable diapers since my 1st attempt with cloth 16 yrs ago failed dismally.

    We are all finding balance, in our own ways. But smugly criticising others without consideration (if you can speak up at all with a social anxiety, you’re a HERO) is very unbalanced. This is not an ego-based pissing contest!

    (oh, BTW, I don’t do birkenstocks either, I like my stilettos and nurse my baby in a black lace push-up bra!)

  8. I like to think of granola as a spectrum. Sure I have some oats, nuts and dried fruit in me but I left out the flax seeds and organic hunny. 🙂 I may be a vegetarian, Birkenstock wearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, socialist mama but I also like my 9 to 5 job with the government. So I can’t be too much of a hippie. Plus my parents were actually hippies and in comparison I may as well be the leader of the Conservative Party.

  9. Hi Amber,
    I am no hippy momma but I do my best to be crunchy too. The non-crunchy things I do/did.
    Disposable diapers.
    We produce 2-3 bags of garbage every 2 weeks.
    I drive a mini-van.
    I used a stroller instead of always baby wearing.
    I eat meat.
    I watch TV.
    I use/own a computer.
    I use commercial cleaners sometimes and papertowels in stead of cloth or newspaper.
    I own a dog.
    However I do try to be conscious of these things and improve my carbon footprint by composting all food items, recycling, participating in Earth Hour, limiting electric consumption, buying local produce, I grow a vegtable garden every year, buying second hand and donating all of our unused clothing, I work locally (10 min drive) and use cloth grocery bags. There are so many important things we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint. Great, thought provoking topic as usual Amber 🙂

  10. This is awesome Amber! Thanks for sharing the ways in which you are NOT a hippy! In my working-mother, suburban world, my friends think I’m crazy for even slightly-hippyish behaviors – such as babywearing, bf at almost 2. Yeah, mostly those two things. I find it funny. I do a lot more baking and organic food preparation now that one of my children has food allergies — we all eat a lot healthier now.

    My list of being a non-hippy is wayyyyy too long. We have two cars (one is a mini-suv), but I do religiously recycle, okay? 🙂
    .-= Missy @ The Marketing Mama´s last post ..The pink glove dance – hospital video goes viral =-.

  11. I love you for your hippie-ish ways, but even more for being fair-minded and generous with the faults of others. And you were nicer to that judgemental self-righteous er, woman, than I would have been.

    I breastfed until my kids self-weaned, but we had skin issues with cloth diapers and I had back issues that put an early end to baby-wearing. I try to buy ethically and I grow what I can and compost, but I don’t think of myself as crunchy. I had a really bad experience with an ‘attachment parenting’ group a few years ago that’s put me off the label (although I am pretty attached to my kids:). I don’t think people who consume mindlessly and don’t care about the environment are great, but I’m not sure they’re worse than the people who think their way is the only way and try to make other people feel bad about themselves.
    .-= Allison´s last post ..****************Playing hooky =-.

  12. And see, I worry that I’m not hippy enough because we do own a TV and prefer metal and punk. 😉

  13. I do some of the things you do and some of the things you don’t do. I wonder if that makes me crunchy too. I’ve never really labeled myself as such but I suppose I’m getting crunchier as I get older.

    I used to love camping. But I think all the years of camping (in Girl Guides, with my parents, and then with some super granola boyfriends) have kind of sapped me of my camping spirit. The closest to camping that I’m willing to get now is camping in yurts along the Oregon Coast. I do kind of feel like I should be introducing camping to my kids though so it’s likely I’ll be standing around in the damp morning clutching my coffee in the future.

    Ever since I’ve read about you needle felt I’ve been wanted to try it. I honestly think about it every couple of days….See I really am getting crunchier!

  14. I love NOT camping…..and playpens! Great post

  15. I love this post and its funny tone. I probably can’t fully pick up all the subtleties of Carrie’s comment, and I just found it very interesting: if we want to make a real change, what we do at home is of little value unless we take it one step up to a political level (come to think of it, didn’t you post about this already?). We do need people marching in peace. Most of us, though, “do their best to do better” in Heather’s words, and they do it at home, working hard to raise children with certain values, and in their communities: we also need this at a capillary level in society. And, above all, we need to keep it real: a simpler/sustainable/whatever lifestyle doesn’t equal privations.
    About your list, I think you must be my lost twin sister or something, because I could have totally written 1 and 2. I don’t know what my “dark secrets” could be, except that living nowhere near shops and having a very small house in a rural setting (with no tv reception I could add) are really the main reasons why we live “frugally”. And I love to shop at H&M, Zara, Ikea etc when I’m in the big city.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Autumn lanterns =-.

  16. Amber… how many different ways do I ‘blogger’ love thee? Too late at night to count them all. But someday soon…. the short notes are honest, fair and authentic. What I always expect from your blog.
    .-= Tracey´s last post ..Follow Friday =-.

  17. Love the caption for your BBQ, where you cook meat. 😉

    I’m so not granola, I can’t even begin to make the list. Not being a fan of camping though, that’s a good start.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Grateful =-.

  18. Great post, Amber!

    As for me… I breastfeed, co-sleep, and I babywear. I consider myself a lactivist, but mostly just on a personal level. I don’t write letters, I don’t march, etc. But I am trying to normalize breastfeeding on a local level by talking openly about it (although not as openly as I’d like – I had some serious personal issues on Facebook that I’m choosing not to battle at this point in time) and nursing in public. It may not sound like a lot, but I’m doing my part the best I can. I am also boycotting Nestle.

    Aside from that, I’m pretty un-crunchy… I have and watch tv (so do both my children), I eat meat (lots and lots of it!), I don’t listen to hippie music (I do like Bob Dylan, but I’m more into newer stuff), I don’t camp (I love the idea of camping, but when the reality of camping sets in, I hate it.), ummm…. I currently walk almost everywhere I go, but only because I don’t have a car currently… Kairi naps more often than not in a bouncy seat… I don’t have a playpen, but only because I don’t think she would stand for being in one.
    .-= Erin W.´s last post ..Because It’s Thanksgiving =-.

  19. Birkinstocks are flippin’ expensive. And I’m not sure that public school is an anti-hippie thing to do. Homeschooling is really common in our sphere, but there are spheres that would consider you to be doing your democratic and socialist duty by supporting the public school system, as opposed to those selfish yobs who plan to send their kids to private school (*raises hand*).
    .-= Kirsten´s last post ..Crafts are eating my brain =-.

  20. Why, hello, fellow breastfeeding, babywearing, organic-produce-buying, bread-baking, glass-bottle-preferring, urban-dwelling, feminist, pacifist mother – good to meet you 🙂

    Reading between the lines, you’ll readily deduce that I don’t use cloth nappies (tried, twice), grow vegetables, subscribe to Mothering or listen to Raffi. On the other hand, I do love my Birks, unschool my kids, and get a kick out of protest singers. Swings and roundabouts, I reckon!
    .-= Lean Ni Chuilleanain´s last post ..Dispatches from the Gender Ghetto =-.

  21. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9…ditto 🙂

    Oh, and I have been known to drive my gas guzzling mini-van to get one or more of my children to sleep.

    .-= Michelle´s last post ..An Earthy Crafty Thanksgiving! =-.

  22. I can agree with almost all of that – except the sports-themed clothing. I HATE sports. Always have, and I managed to marry the one man in American who never ever ever watches or follows sports either (even though he’s a basketball official, which is weird, I know, but he’s more into playing that watching or following.)

    I feel like I do a lot of “crunchy” things, but I really never consider myself crunchy, though I’m sure all of my mainstream friends think I’m Uber-Crunch. I’m a full on type A mother, and I do a lot of things that get me ostracized from the Uber-Crunch crowd (like sleep training, sending my kids to public school, and taking them to McDonalds a few times a month.) Ah well. I’m okay with that. I have no idea where I “fit in” – I probably don’t. I’m learning to be okay with that.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last post ..Full-time Worker, Full-time Student, Full-time Breastfeeder too =-.

  23. I love SUGAR!!!!!

    That’s the one that always makes me feel like I should be kicked out of the crunchy clique.

    I also watch waaaaaay too much TV, or so says the granola critic within me.

    I’m glad to find someone else who hates camping, and I can’t even complain, because I didn’t put in my time. I formed that opinion from just a few experiences.

    But I do love me some folk music. Love it.
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post ..How to have a waste-free Christmas =-.

  24. Yes, Crunch is a spectrum. Have you ever seen the “How Crunchy Are You?” Quiz? Fun stuff!

    On your list, only 3 of them apply to me. But then I don’t knit, am not crafty at all, and own and *love* my TV.

    With so many things, I think it is better to focus on the philosophy or frame of mind behind how people do things, rather than the specifics of what they do/don’t do. I also think there is room for all of us to evolve and to improve and that is a big part of what I advocate for on my blog. For example, like you, I eat meat, but I am trying to eat less of it.

    This comment has no point…just blabbering away.
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last post ..Nestle Answers: How Nestle uses social media =-.

  25. This is halarious Amber. You’re right about the holier hippie than thou contest energy out there. That’s partly why I recently wrote about the more breastfeeding natural than thou energy I also feel out there. But your post is way funnier than mine. I think I need to work on my sense of humour. I’m so far behind on reading blog posts I apologize for the late comment. What isn’t super-crunchy about me is I can’t sew or make my own soap and I have a very sad garden. Other than that I’m pretty darn crunchy.
    .-= Melodie´s last post ..Easy Handmade Gifts: Bath Products =-.

  26. I am expecting my first child and have come to the realization that I am a hippie. I eat meat because I like it thought sometimes I just plain forget since veggies are sooo tempting right now. I plan on natural childbirth, breastfeeding and cloth diapering despite the” oh you’ll change your mind later” comments from friends. I was homeschooled but am completely open to either that or public school. I used to be a zookeeper and tried to save the world but when that didn’t go very far I became a wife, now mother, and an elementary school teacher aid. I bellydance for the empowerment and the fun and have a hatred of all things stroller. I cannot stand ” cute” newborn outfits. Give me tye-dye instead. My husband and I try to be as eco-friendly as possible, and ride to work together all of 3 minutes and we have a person propelled push mower. It seems like not many women I know share much of this so it’s nice to find people who are willing to just do what’s right for them. Thanks for posting.

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  1. says:

    » Confessions of a Hippie Mama…

    So, today, I am going to share with you the many ways that I am not such a hippie mama after all….

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