I’m a ’90s baby. I blame my excessive chin hair on the copious amounts of Surge I consumed during my tween years. There was no such thing as “crunchy” parents or “organic” foods. We all ate Cool Ranch Doritos, red dye 40, Little Debbies, and we loved every artery-clogging second of it.
Going from ’90s baby to millennial mom comes with its own set of challenges. I was extremely proud of myself for learning a new grocery shopping regime. I try to skirt more on the edge of the store (meat, produce, dairy) than in the middle aisles packed with sugar and happiness. This seemed to be a brilliant life hack and just enough for me not to feel guilty about my inability to sustain my own garden.
However, I quickly learned during a visit with a friend that I am slowly killing my children. Said friend was over for lunch and quite literally gasped when she looked in my freezer.
“Is that Tyson chicken?!” she screeched.
“I know, right?! Not even a nugget! Aren’t you proud?”
“Tyson?!” she continued, “That chicken is packed with hormones! Don‘t you know they keep those chickens in cages?”
I stared at her dumbly. First of all, the fact that the chicken wasn’t in the shape of a dinosaur was quite possibly a first for me. Secondly, what other option was there for chickens besides cages and coops? I grew up on a farm; if the chickens weren’t in cages they were chasing me around the yard trying to peck my eyeballs out. I could only imagine the damage Tyson’s chicken army could manage.
After my holier-than-thou ex-friend left, I took to the internet to see what all the fuss was about.
I got caught in a black hole succubus of information. I sat there green around the gills watching slaughterhouse videos, reading studies on cancer-causing kids’ snacks, listening to podcasts about children hitting puberty in kindergarten after drinking a cup of non-organic cow’s milk.
I never felt so confused, sickened, and irate in one moment.
What the fuck can my kids eat?
It wasn’t just chicken, I quickly found out. There were horror stories for every damn thing. Unless I was raising a small herd of animals in my house, singing lullabies to them each night, planting and harvesting crops, milking my own cows that I fed the tears of angels, I was never, ever, ever going to raise children who didn’t have three nipples and tumors the size of watermelons.
Then, I watched an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! where they debunked all things organic. I felt a little less guilty, but only a little since I hardly ever take nutritional advice from two magicians.
Like all things parenting, I decided to take a strict middle-of-the-road stance. My kids continue to eat processed foods, but I also buy organic stuff sometimes too. Yes, they ride sugar highs like a magic carpet sometimes, but they don‘t have beards in preschool, yet.
I’m not perfect, but I’m not entirely lazy either. I’m just right.
But, really, who the hell can keep up?!
I won’t ever be the mom who gives her babies sippy cups of Mountain Dew, but I also will never, ever have a chicken coop.
I care a little but not enough to be full-blown crunchy and start making my own soaps.
I’m like the instant oatmeal of mothers.