Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Love of a Mother (and Father)

I guess I am getting to that age where it is becoming apparent that amongst my friends there will be some who choose not to have children.  That fact seems to draw a wedge of sorts between the parents and the not parents.  It doesn’t have to, and some childless couples mesh in better with their parent friends than others.  Either way, things like “ they just don’t  understand” and “they just don’t get it” get said by the parents about the non-parents.  And this “IT” is exactly what is causing the strange separation between us.  This it factor it the maternal (and paternal) love that parents develop when they become parents.  Now it happens at different times for each person.  There are those that say that they fell in love with their child the second they found out that they were pregnant, others say it was when the nurse handed their newborn to them the first time, and for others, like myself, it happens gradually.  With my first child it was a gradual thing that developed slowly starting at the first ultrasound, it grew immensely at the birth and then one day “it” hit me.  “It”, this thing only parents get to experience, is the most powerful emotion that anyone can ever feel.  It is this sense of love for another person that is so strong it will bring you to your knees if you think about it too much, it will make you sick to your stomach if you think for a nanosecond of the possibility of losing it.  It will make you do and say and think crazy things in its defense.  It is so powerful and so amazing that it changes every fiber of our being.  And therefore the wedge.  Parents wonder how their non-parent friends could possibly live without this wonderful love.  Non-parents wonder why their parent friends are so “crazy” sometimes when it comes to their children and why we are always talking about our kids.  Sometimes we parent even get a little pushy, asking when and if the non-parents will have kids.

Of course I remember what it was like before I had kids.  I was happy, really happy.  I had a lot of fun, a lot of me time, and a LOT of sleep.  I get how that could be hard to consider “giving” up.  Becoming a parent definitely requires sacrifice too, and sometimes you have to give up things that you loved before having kids for a while or forever, but all that I can say is that the love and joy that come with it are SO worth it.  

I know this sounds a little fluffy.  To someone who isn’t a parent it might sound like I am one of those people who always wanted kids and that was just what I was meant to do, and that is why I love being a parent so much.  Which is kinda true, but I have friends who growing up swore that they would never have kids, that they didn’t “like” kids.  As soon as they became parents they too were overwhelmed with this special love.  It happens to all parents.  Well almost all, I know there are those crazy people on talk shows that come out and say that they never loved their children, but I would guess that there is something wrong with them greater than just not loving their children.  It isn’t something that you choose to do or not.  It just happens.  I remember people telling me this stuff before I had kids.  My father-in-law was one of the major pushers.  He would always tell my husband that he would never be able to understand how much he loved him until he had kids of his own.  At the time my husband thought he was just being pushy.  At the hospital the day our daughter was born my husband called my father-in-law and through tears of joy admitted that he final understood what he had been talking about.  It truly is amazing.

A bit of advice to those non-parent people out there.  When parent friends ask when or if you will have children or tell you that you just can’t understand what it is like to be a parent they are not trying to pressure you or insult your intelligence.  Parents just want their friends to get to experience the joy of being parents that they have.  We parents know that it is possible to be happy without kids and that being a parent isn’t something that everyone will choose, and we can accept that.  In the end there will always be parents and non-parents and we can all still be friends!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Organic Junk Food

No, that is not an oxymoron, but it seems that many people would seem to think so.  I am not one to judge, as I sit her in a Halloween candy induced semi-coma, but I do think we should clear up a few terms.  People need to be talking about nutrition with their families and friends.  Our children have more choices than ever before and will need to be well armed with knowledge to make life-long healthy choices.
Organic does not mean it is good for you.  Better? yes, possibly, but not necessarily good.  A few examples are: organic potato chips, organic candy coated chocolate drops  (“m&m’s”), organic chocolate sandwich cookies (“oreos”)and organic gummy fruits.   None of these items, organic or not, are good for you.  The organic versions are better than the originals, in that they don’t contain artificial flavors or colors, preservatives, or partially hydrogenated oils just to name a few of the really bad guys in the originals.  If a person were craving on of the aforementioned items, and was going to eat it no matter what, then the organic version would be a better choice.  Not a good choice, but a better choice. 
Natural is another one of those confusing terms, but it is even worse than organic from meaning good for you.  Organic is at least regulated by the Federal government.  The term Natural really has no legs to stand on.  It is not regulated by the FDA or USDA.  The word “natural” can just be slapped on a label and there is not much anyone can say to question it.
One last term that I have seen a lot is Farm Fresh.  Like Natural, this term really has no clear definition or anyone to enforce it.  The item does not have to be “fresh”, meaning it was made or grown recently in relation to competitors, or from a “farm”.  Farm fresh is just a fun alliteration put on labels to sell food to well meaning shoppers.
So the conclusion here is that processed food is not as good for you as real, whole food.  Of course, organic “real” food is better than non-organic.  We have to stop pretending that junk food isn’t junk food when it is organic.  Lunch boxes should not contain cookies, organic or not.  My favorite example of organic junk food is those yogurts in a tube.  They are filled with sugar and give children another opportunity to not sit and eat with silverware at a table.  Mid morning or afternoon snacks should be organic fruit, veggies, low-fat dairy products, nuts, etc. NOT organic cookies, chips, candies, and “fruit” snacks.
Don’t get me wrong, we eat our fair share of junk food in our house, mostly in the form of home baked goods!  We try to include organic fruits and veggies with every meal and snack, to counter act the not so healthy things we eat.  We try to teach our children why we eat healthy food, and what our bodies need vs. what we sometimes want.  We eat non-organic junk food too, on occasion.   We don’t however, try to pass off junk food as anything other that that - JUNK.  We live by the “everything in moderation” motto.  It works for us!   What works for you and your family when it comes to nutrition?