Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Green Is Fading

The Green Phone Booth welcomes Abbie of Farmer's Daughter for today's guest post.

I gave birth to Joshua on March 12, 2010. I knew that my life would change forever when I became a mother, and one of the areas where I struggle the most is keeping up with my sustainability goals. With a baby in my arms, I’ve found I don’t have enough hands to do everything that I used to, and I’m backsliding. I’m still doing my best to live in an eco-friendly way, but “best” has been temporarily redefined.

Cooking from scratch has been difficult, since I don’t have the time or energy to do things like knead bread, make homemade ricotta, or make my own pasta. I’ve decided that using my bread machine or buying bread, cheese, and pasta are okay for now. I also haven’t had time to can, but I’m really hoping to find time to can tomato sauce later this summer. I still try to support local agriculture and cook with sustainable, local, humanely raised foods, but some nights are just take-out nights.

Our garden has also suffered from my newfound lack of time: filling up with weeds, getting pretty thirsty, going to seed. I’ve decided I’ll consider whatever we pick from our garden this year to be a success, and so far we’ve had lettuce, peppers, peas, and a handful of raspberries. The potatoes, carrots and tomatoes are still looking pretty good, too, despite being neglected.

I’m embarrassed to admit that while I bought a retractable clothesline with the best intentions, we haven’t yet put it up. Our laundry has increased quite a bit and it all goes in the dryer. I can’t wait to see the beauty of sheets hanging out on the line, drying in the hot sun and blowing in the soft breeze. But that might not happen until next spring.

The good news is that it’s not all on hold. Even with my new busy life as a mom, I have been able to adopt new sustainable practices. I’m exclusively breastfeeding Joshua, which is not only good for both of us, it’s good for the planet since there’s no need to produce, package or ship formula, wash bottles (at least until I go back to work), or give money to corporations that don’t share my environmental values. We’ve also found that gDiapers work well for us, since their hybrid system allows us to use cloth liners or biodegradable, flushable disposable liners (gDiapers has not compensated me in any way for writing this.) Knowing that his diapers won’t still be in a landfill 1000 years from now gives me peace of mind.

These successes give me hope that as Joshua grows we’ll be able to regain the sustainable practices we once considered to be normal parts of our lifestyle. After all, I care about preserving the planet so my son can live a long, healthy, happy life. I want to share my love for the environment with him and teach him how to live sustainably. I still have my from-scratch skills, and I hope to use them again someday!

How has having children impacted your sustainable goals?


knutty knitter said...

We didn't have most of your options so green was just what we did. I have to admit that I didn't make bread at this time but we never did own a dryer. I did get shaped fabric diapers which were marvelous. I admit to using a couple of packs of disposables too :)

You do what you can. I suspect we were lucky in that there are no takeaways nearby :) Otherwise the temptation might have been great!

viv in nz

Nana Sadie said...

In the "back to the land movement" in the 70s we had the same ideals, and then the same challenges when the little ones came, all in addition to wanting to "do it all," and be successful career women! *wink*

I suspect you'll find a happy medium that will keep you on track in your ideals of walking lightly, but will also allow you to handle your responsibilities and be with your new baby (who's just plain adorable, btw).

But change is always a juggling act when you first have to learn how to handle it. Be kind to yourself, and ease up on the guilty feelings, okay? You're doing great!

Chile said...

When life throws big changes at you, whether good ones or not-so-good, how you do everything has to also change to accomodate them. Sounds like you are doing good with the time/energy you have. Take care of that little one!

Farmer's Daughter said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Viv, when I get take-out it's usually from a local seafood or Italian place. I know the owners and they're not chains, so I'm happy to support them, as their families support my family's farm.

Nana Sadie, most days I don't have time to be hard on myself, but I always want to strive to do better!

Chile, I'm sure you can relate with your big move!

Elle Bee said...

When my twins were born, a lot of my green practices went out the window, so I can completely relate. But don't worry, it'll come back, plus some. My twins are almost 2 now, and I'm exclusively using a clothesline now. (When they were infants? No way!) And my garden, once a disaster when I was nursing them, is now in full beautiful swing. So just ride it out. Your green will be brilliant once again. :o)
Congrats on your adorable little one!

Sandy said...

I was a new mother in the 70's too; I nursed exclusively like you're doing, and found it very rewarding. After 32 years, my daughter and I still have very close ties, which I attribute largely to that experience. I was able to use cloth diapers, but since we were renters, I had to dry them by machine. I did have the luck of being a canner, even then; the apples I craved when I was pregnant became one of my daughter's first foods (as sauce) when she began taking food at 6 months. We also found a little gizmo (I hope they still make them) called a food grinder; you could put a few tablespoons of whatever you had made for supper into it, and grind it down manually for your baby. It was a great way to transition into foods without having to buy the marketed baby foods...oh, I'm getting nostalgic now; i miss those days! Enjoy them. They pass so quickly.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Elle Bee- If you can do that with twins, I have hope!

Sandy- My mom nursed me and we're still very close, too. It's funny, tonight I served applesauce I canned last fall when I was pregnant and told Joshua he'll probably have applesauce as one of his first foods this fall!

panamamama said...

I really liked gDiapers. Had them with my last son, the first two I used cloth and seventh generation disposables. I thought the g- ones worked much better. I feel like I think more about sustainability having kids, because I think about the world they are going to inherit. I do slip a lot...trying to get rid of all those pre-packaged lunchbox things but I give in to kid-pressure every now and again. I think there is a happy medium, and as long as we think about the consequences and try to do the right thing 90% of the time we will make a difference, and our kids will learn what it right.

Anonymous said...

I have found that it gets easier every year. And introducing a second child was much less disruptive than introducing the first one. Becoming a parent upends your life, and changes almost everything. It takes a while to restore equilibrium. In the meantime, try to be as patient with yourself as you can. And look forward to the days (not too far off) when your son can help you weed, water and hang clothes.

Kelly Coyle DiNorcia said...

Thank you so much for this post! This is such an important issue for those of us who were activists before we had children, and need to somehow find a balance between parenting and staying committed to our values. My master's thesis was actually a guide for parents who are walking this very tightrope, and I blog about it as well. I appreciate your bravery admitting that you are having to make compromises - we all do it, but we're not all willing to talk about it!

Anonymous said...

having kids that turned me greener! I started to use cloth nappies (just the plain old towelling ones - i couldnt afford the fancy shaped ones!) and cut up an old towel to use as baby wipes. washing and hanging up nappies to dry on the line (no drier - being poor makes you greener too!) made me consider cloth pads - if i could wash poo from cloth, i figured blood is no biggie!

i breastfed and then made all the baby food from scratch - it was a natural progression to cook everything else from scratch as well. if you start out making healthier choices for your kids it is difficult to start feeding them processed crap later on!


robbie said...

Being a parent changed some of my ideals - while I had less time in some regards, being smarter about what we used became more important, especially for the health of our children. You will find your balance. It's hard not to wonder "what if" or compare yourself to the life before!


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