Friday, December 21st, 2012
Back when my son, Max, was a toddler, I worked as an editor at a magazine. For one April issue, I spearheaded a special eco section and ended up getting friendly with a woman who’d written a book on living green. I told her what had happened to Max—that he’d had a stroke at birth, and that he was delayed and not yet walking at the age of two. Eventually, he’d be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “I hope you’re using natural products to clean your house,” she said. “Well, I use some,” I said. “If I were you, I’d definitely make sure that anything you use on your floor is a green product, because he’s crawling on that and breathing it in,” she noted.
Those words would have made me a green product convert no matter what kind of child I’d had, but as it turns out I had a kid who needed every advantage that he could get in life. I wanted him to breathe in healthy scents, not fumes. I wanted to put the best stuff possible into his little body. And so, I ran (not walked) to Whole Foods and bought eco-friendly floor cleaner, countertop cleaner, everything cleaner. I fed him only organic baby food. I even gave him an Omega-3 supplement, which our doctor recommended to nourish brain development.
Ever since, I only use eco-friendly household cleaners. I also use natural skincare products and shampoos on the kids, as well as natural cough and cold medicines. Food-wise, we get some organic produce and generally try look for the healthiest possible eats.
That said, I use a chemical-y bathroom cleaner because, well, I want to go commando on the germs. I get regular kind of laundry detergent, usually whatever’s on sale. Max happens to love a certain kind of canned pasta with beef that is pretty much the opposite of organic, and I sometimes let him have it. Because of his cerebral palsy, he has trouble chewing and soft foods are easiest, so when he’s really into a food I’m glad to get those calories into him.
Basically, I try to go natural with what I consider big-deal things (like cough syrup and medications) and not sweat the smaller stuff (like the occasional lunch of that canned pasta). It’s how I generally approach motherhood: Do what feels right and don’t second-guess yourself. It’s how I have to live, raising a child with special needs, because there is so much to do and think about and, sadly, still only 24 hours in a day.
A couple of months ago, I was in the park with my daughter and I pulled out a non-organic chocolate-chip granola bar for her to snack on. “Ohhh, you let her eat that?” another mom said, a little disdainfully. Her own child was munching on dried edamame. “Why, yes, I do let her eat that!” I said, cheerfully. “It’s food!”
Maybe I won’t win Earth Mother of the Year anytime soon—but I’m OK with that. I’d say I’m still a good mother.
This post is sponsored by Little Remedies, makers of children’s medication without artificial colors, artificial flavors or alcohol.
Image of smiling child holding sprout via Shutterstock