Where Have All the Crunchy Granola Moms Gone?

ImageI was taken aback the first time someone referred to me as a Crunchy Granola Mom. It was years ago, after my first son was born.

“What’s a Crunchy Granola Mom?” I asked. Apparently, it was the name for moms like me – moms who were crazy about natural childbirth, exclusive breastfeeding, attached parenting, and co-sleeping. Moms who obsessed over healthy foods, natural remedies, and homeschooling. Moms who bought ridiculously expensive, dye-free wooden toys for their babies to teethe upon, and encouraged their kids to run and play in the rain. Moms who wanted to raise children who think for themselves, even if that means going against the grain. Crunchy like the raw carrots growing in our organic gardens. Wholesome as granola.

The nickname made me smile even more so than the other labels for moms like me – Attached Parents. Neo-Hippies. Afterschoolers. Earth Moms. Whatever you want to call it, I had swallowed the red pill and become a member of the Crunchy Sisterhood. I spent many happy years wearing my babies in slings, serving my kids homemade, super-healthy meals, cloth-diapering, and setting them loose to explore the world in their own natural way, at their own natural pace.

It’s a funny thing, though. Now that my kids are older, that Crunchy Granola Mom title seems to have rubbed off. It’s not that my parenting style or ideals have changed that much. I still value wholesome foods, natural remedies, and being in tune with my children. I still encourage my kids to run and play in the rain. It’s just that labels just don’t seem to stick to parents of older school-age kids. When you’re a parent of young kids, your philosophy of child-rearing becomes your philosophy of life in general. It defines you, and determines where you belong in the parenting social world.

But there is a shift as the children grow to become more and more their own independent people and less a reflection of your parenting philosophy. It’s a strange thing, after spending so many years being Crunchy Granola Mom. Now I have learned to step back and bite my tongue as my teen chooses to eat chocolate Pop Tarts for breakfast instead of my homemade oatmeal-apple-raisin muffins. Because he is moving forward at his own natural pace, and thinking for himself, even if that means going against the grain. And, well, wasn’t that the whole point?


Ode to a Natural Child

Oh wild green branch

tender as the spring

let the rain be your first drink

let the wind be your song

and the sun drench your tangled hair

as you twirl, restless, dizzy

a kite set free

in the summer sky




11 responses to “Where Have All the Crunchy Granola Moms Gone?

    • Very cool picture on that blog. What a great captured moment! 🙂 I was one of those who let my kids nurse anytime, anywhere, for a long time. I still teasingly remind my daughter that I knew she would become a gymnast, because when she was 2 yrs. old, she used to do handstands and cartwheels in my lap, all while breastfeeding. 😀

      I’ve always loved that concept of the natural childhood. Even I had a good taste of it in the hills of the Bay Area, though instead of your apricot trees, mine were plum trees, eucalyptus trees, and blackberry brambles. I was so happy to pass on similar opportunities to my own kids.


  1. You might possibly enjoy this:

    Flaubert’s Pickles

    I love the English language. So many words, so much nuance. We live in a lush vineyard of vocabulary. We stroll through, squeezing ripe, plump words, pondering. Carefully, we pick them and blend them into fine sentences that grow richer with age, deep and full-bodied or crisp and fruity, abounding with their own cherry and tobacco, pineapple and chocolate, blackberry and coffee, some with a peppery finish. Often the difference between words is so subtle, we’re not even sure there is one. Like a fine finish: is that a hint of apricot or peach?

    Flaubert described writing as “back-breaking, sweaty, time-consuming work” and once confessed in a letter, “Last week I spent five days writing one page.” His life was one long, uncompromising search for the perfect word to blend with other perfect words. While composing Madame Bovary, he would sometimes fall out of his chair in fits of apoplexy, lying on the floor, his fists banging his temples. (Been there.) What is that single word above all others that expresses what I am trying to say?

    Today, few of us can afford that luxury (few could afford it back then – Flaubert’s father was a doctor), and we know that what we put on paper every day is not meant to stun the world as a new literary form. We just want to communicate clearly and concisely with our colleagues. But we still need to use words precisely.

    Let’s practice. What word perfectly describes this situation: I’m about to quit a job I love, working with people I admire, to pursue a longtime dream of opening my own biodynamic winery. I want to stuff cow horns with manure and see the sparkle of morning dew on the vines. I confide in one boss, who empathizes but asks me not to tell anyone that I told him first. I promise I won’t. Now I confide in a second boss, who asks, “Does anyone else know?” To say yes would betray a confidence; to say no would be a lie. So I have a problem. But am I in a predicament, a dilemma, or a quandary? A plight, a pickle, or a jam?

    Certainly, I’m in a predicament, because I can’t do what I want to do (which is nothing), I am deeply confused, and I worry I will make the wrong decision.

    But I have only two choices, each equally unpleasant or unsatisfactory, which means I might be beyond confusion and facing a stark dilemma.

    Could I be in a quandary? That differs from a dilemma when the situation so confounds me, I can’t even see the alternatives. But I can see the alternatives; I just don’t like them. So I’m still facing a dilemma. I think.

    My situation is really not that confusing; it’s just an unfortunate, trying, and unhappy place right now. So it might be my plight.

    Maybe the word that best describes my situation is a pickle, which is a plight, only particularly distressing. I am definitely in a pickle.

    Finally, is there any way I could be in a jam, which is like a pickle, which is a plight? If I’m in a jam, I’m entangled and finding it difficult to extricate myself. That works, sort of. But what to do? I can use only one.

    Flaubert was forever in a pickle over words, distressed and sweating for hours to find just the right one. What would he call my situation? I don’t know. But it’s Tuesday night, the manure’s in the horn, the quartz is in the ground, the moon is full, the frost is nigh, and the time has come to pick . . . a word. Dilemma.

    • Hmm…and yet, he was neither in a jam nor a pickle, nor any other true entanglement. You see, Boss #2 did not ask him to betray a confidence. He only asked him if anyone else knew, to which the answer could simply be “yes.” 😉 (Sorry…I am way too analytical sometimes). I enjoyed the winery metaphors, though.

      On Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 3:16 PM, The Girl From Jupiter wrote:


  2. That was my first thought as well – just say “yes”! Oh well, perhaps the simple solution eluded the author becuase he was trying to be so cute. And while I think “back-breaking, sweaty” work is a bit of a melodramatic description for writing, I like the wine analogy very much, as well as the earthy references :). And I personally don’t believe there’s any such thing as “too analytical” LOL.

    • Haha…being analytical is very helpful in a technical career field! Not so much in life, though. Sometimes I over-identify with Hamlet. Have you read Hamlet much? He overthinks everything and then does nothing.

      You know…I don’t think I have ever found writing to be back-breaking or sweaty work 😀 Maddening, maybe. Frustrating, head-banging, nailbiting…

  3. I particularly love some of the language in Hamlet.

    I realize I was thinking of “analytical” in a different way. The Hamlet Syndrome is one I associate more closely with indecisiveness. Inability to take action. Inability to make choices and move forward.

    In contrast, I think of being analytical more like this: gather the information, digest it, and then make the very best choice you can make, in light of your own gut instincts, the wisdom you admire, and, if it makes sense, advice from others whom you trust.

    Warren Buffet calls indecisiveness “thumb sucking.” When he’s deciding whether to make an investment, he is certainly very, very thorough in reading the 10K, analyzing the financials, looking at the products the company makes and the direction the economy is going and the likely future value of those products. He might spend two days or a week being incredibly thorough and analytical. And then he makes a decision: to invest or not to invest. And then he moves on, knowing he made the very best decision he could make at that moment!

    So because I make that distinction between “analytical” and “indecisive”, I tend to say things like “there’s no such thing as being too analytical.” What I mean by that is that there’s no such thing as understanding something too well. But once you’ve spend your 2 days or a week absorbing all the information and being analytical, then it’s time to make a decision and take action. To me the analytical part is just one phase in the decision-making process. It should never hinder the actual decision. It should simply make the average decision better, or at least more well informed.

    There are all manner of things that can go wrong after the fact, so you can’t judge prior decisions in hindsight based on the ultimate results. For example, a person could find and marry their perfect match, but then their spouse gets killed in a car accident the next year. You can’t go back and say the decision to marry that person was wrong. There was an intervening event that changed everything, but there was no way of knowing about the intervening event in advance. So getting married was still the best choice possible at the time, despite the fact that it didn’t work out as one would hope.

    On the other hand, if I married someone who I knew at the time wasn’t really right for me, then I would be making a mistake, because I didn’t use the information I had available at the time to make the decision that I knew deep down, on some level, to be the best decision for me.

    Anyway, now I think I have a better understanding of the sense in which you were using “analytical,” and how the indecisiveness associated with that meaning can be a hinderance in life!

    I guess fears also come into play, because fears can have a paralyzing effect and create the same symptom of indecisiveness … Hamlet Syndrome. And anxiety may also produce similar results.

    I’m not sure I like the term “overthinker,” even though I think I understand the intention behind it, because people like Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Wallace were incredibly productive thinkers, and their insights still astound and amaze. In general I think our society suffers from a lack of serious thought, and it would be a better place if we had more people engaged and thinking and discovering. That can be a very productive way of living. But at the same time I do understand that people who overthink every little detail and get caught up on unnecessary, insignificant matters and get sidetracked into overthinking every miniscule action are doing themselves no favors.

    • “I particularly love some of the language in Hamlet.” Same. 🙂 There are so many great passages that I can’t begin to focus on a favorite.

      I guess I can see what you mean about the difference between being very analytical and being indecisive. But I also think that indecisiveness cannot exist without first being overly analytical. 😉 Here’s how it is for me. I want to buy a new computer graphics card. I take my time — perhaps several months, to research. I read reviews. I compare prices and functionality. I examine games to make sure they will work well with that brand and model of hardware.. But it the end, I make a decision, and I feel pretty good about it. That is being very analytical about the decision. Now consider political ideologies/values/philosophies. I hear one side, and so much of it sounds reasonable. I hear side B and come to the same conclusion. I can imagine both alternatives equally and see the benefits and disadvantages of both ideologies. I am impossibly ambivalent about the both. When asked to choose a side, or form an opinion favoring one side or the other, I cannot, because I like both. I could easily debate for or against either side. In the end, I decide not to choose, and simply avoid the topic. Perhaps I am afraid to choose and be wrong, or choose and offend someone, or choose and be disloyal, because I will always look back to the choice I did not make. Hamlet Syndome?

      Haha, in truth, I think the Hamlet Syndrome described in that book pretty much sounds like a bunch of lazy intellectuals. 😉 And being one at times myself, I cannot judge too harshly.

      On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 2:08 PM, The Girl From Jupiter wrote:


  4. Here’s an interesting review of the Hamlet Syndrome:

    “Personality disorders are difficult to cure, and sometimes just difficult to live with. Change is always hard, but understanding is sometimes just nice to have. We have our personality categorized and classified. Miller and Glodblatt have found a new one. They call it the Hamlet Syndrome. Characteristics include an inability to decide between the heart and the dollar. Torn between what they want to do and what they have to do, they often do nothing. “As the years roll by and Hamlets grow tired of making just enough money to survive, their betterness toward themselves and the system increases, leading to frustration, cynicism, and a dramatic loss of self-esteem” (pp. 20-21). Their life script becomes: “To be or not to be.”

    The authors define five types: 1) I have not yet begun to fight; 2) hippie; 3) perpetual student; 4) artist, and; 5) dropout. Though the authors don’t talk about Christians here, I suspect a vast amount of Christians suffer from this syndrome. The church sets them up: they have high idealism, yet have to adjust to a market-oriented world. They usually live by doctrines instead of experience. Yet Hamlets have much tolerance, are innately curious skeptics and free thinkers, and search for meaning in every activity. They are bewildered by too much choice, and usually take the path of least resistance to achieve their goals through inaction.”

    • I’ve been giving thought to the last part you mentioned, about Christians suffering from so-called Hamlet Syndrome. I wonder about that, too, although I’m less sure about a “vast amount.” I think that living one’s life by a Christian, or any solid religious dogma, makes it easier to make decisions in many ways, because it teaches you to think less for yourself. “Should I read this controversial book? Is it okay to celebrate Halloween? Are little white lies acceptable?” Now yes, there are some Christians who will reason these things through and weigh the good and bad. But there are many others (and I have known my share) who will simply shrug, point to a vague scripture, and determine that “the Bible says it is/isn’t okay,” and they base their decisions on that interpretation. And that was so hard for me to tolerate, that people would just accept all of it so simply, without question, even when it made little sense, or could be argued against. “The Bible says the world was made in seven days, so that must be the literal way to interpret it. End of story.” It was maddening at times, especially when there were other ways one could interpret the meaning. But in the church, it seemed far less acceptable to speak your mind on certain issues, and less acceptable to be yourself if being yourself went against the grain, or worse, stirred dissension. 😦 So I learned not to speak my opinions or share my contrasting ideas. I learned to be as conservative as everyone else, to keep the peace.

      On the other hand, there are parts of Christianity that are wonderful, and require one to grow in a very different way, as opposed to the path of least resistance. For example, the concept of forgiveness — of forgiving those who wrong us. It is much easier to write off people, or label them “toxic” and turn our backs. But the Christian ideal is one of forgiveness, and loving our enemies, no matter how much they hurt us. Because of those powerful ideals of love was I able to forgive people who had hurt me in my past, which was healing to them as well as me. And the ideals of helping the poor and treating them as our equals instead of snubbing them and favoring the rich — those things are so counterculture, that it takes a great deal of strength and love to exercise it and become the kind of person who can live that way. I love those parts of the Christian faith. They are ideals, but attainable ideals, which can be applied universally and only serve to make the world better.

      (Okay, sorry…going on too long 😉 )

  5. So where does that classify me — the Dropout? 😉 Probably. I find it rather presumptuous that the authors would refer to this as a personality disorder, as opposed to simply categorizing them as types and subtypes of personalities, which is what they are. But I can see what they are getting at, and I’m sure that they could fit my personality rather neatly into one of these boxes, along with every other reasonably intelligent person who has not achieved a certain level of career success. “To Be or Not to Be.” — what, exactly?

    Sorry…you’ll have to bear with me. I have had an incredible shift in identity in the past several years, and I am still working through it, or at least trying to come to terms with it. It was simpler when I knew who I was in terms of mother, homemaker, friend, wife, church member, scout leader, teacher, and writer. Now, all that’s left is mother, and half-hearted student/wannabe techie, and half-hearted writer. And perhaps that is where I now take the path of least resistance. To Be or Not to Be — well, maybe it is easier to shrug my shoulders and say, “I am not becoming anything of value, and I don’t care anymore.”

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