As a 44-year-old college-educated mother of four, I have always put my family first. I breastfed my babies, then made my own baby food when they were ready for solids. I cook homemade meals every night of the week with fresh ingredients and the all-important organic coconut oil. I make sure the kids’ homework is done, get to know their teachers, chaperone field trips, give gifts to their bus drivers (yes, even in middle school), volunteer as room parent and teach Vacation Bible School at our church every July.
I buy organic whenever I can, don’t buy soda or juice, recycle everything including toilet paper rolls, use ghee and real olive oil—not the blends sullied by the Mob (Google it). I limit screen time and make sure the kids get plenty of fresh air by playing outside. I frequent websites about living with less, paleo eating, grass-fed beef and chicken, supporting local farms and avoiding GMOs. I grow my own organic vegetables and flowers, collect rainwater and compost everything I can, but I have realized all of this frenzy comes at a hefty price: My sanity.
Here’s a news bulletin: I still use deodorant with aluminum in it and shampoo with sulfites, and I have used an electric blanket as long as I can remember—just like my parents. Sure, I’ve tried the all-natural no-poo stuff that turned my hair an odd shade of reddish brown reminiscent of Ronald McDonald. I have used the chemical-free deodorants that made me smell like a sweaty construction worker before I had even left the house.
I read that butter in your coffee is the next best thing for your health, so of course I tried it with organic grass-fed butter, because what else would I have used? I stared down at the steaming cup of black goodness with the oil slick on top, took two sips and found it so disgusting I threw a perfectly good cup of coffee down the drain. Tragic.
I have friends who make their own 100-percent-natural deodorants, yet have read of people getting wicked rashes due to the baking soda continuously applied under their arms.
I have even switched to pink Himalayan sea salt for its mineral benefits but then read one sleepless night at 2 a.m. that there’s a higher risk of uranium in the Himalayan stuff, which begs the question: Which is worse–a trace amount of radiation or a completely stripped, chemical version of salt?
Yes, pink Himalayan sea salt kept me up at night.
I realized that a lot of my inner thought life was becoming consumed with suburban First World concerns. Scenarios like whether or not my kids were getting enough magnesium, the battle of grass-fed vs. regular supermarket chicken, and the potential for arsenic in the rice that I might serve with the chicken took up too much space in my head. The madness just had to stop!
My college friend and I recently tried the same no-poo cleansing hair conditioner with the same miserable results, but shouldn’t natural be better for us and the planet? After a few texts back and forth with her saying, “My hair feels like straw and my color turned brassy,” and, “I can’t get a comb through my wet hair,” I said, “Nope. I’m done. I’m returning this crap and sticking to my regular routine of shampoo and conditioner. This just isn’t working.”
Yes, I’m willing to potentially lose a few years of life sticking with sulfite shampoo, aluminum-laden deodorant and my beyond deliciously delicious electric blanket on bitterly cold winter nights. The mental and emotional toll of trying to get it right, organic, and healthy all the time was actually making it all wrong.
I was a kid of the 1970s and ‘80s, so I ate Twinkies, Pop-Tarts and Chef Boyardee along with a steady diet of Scooby-Doo and The Brady Bunch. I loved the smell of gasoline as my dad filled the car and rode my bike without a helmet. For some reason (which is still quite unclear), my mom’s OB gave her weekly injections of mercury during her entire pregnancy with me, and you know what? I’m still here and healthy, and so are my parents, who grew up driving around in cars with the widows rolled up tight and breathing in secondhand smoke.
I’m a risk-taker, and I’m taking back my sanity. So hand me my Secret deodorant, some regular poo shampoo, and put the blanket on high.