October 2009

Happy Halloween!, originally uploaded by Justpowers.

I think I have decided that I like Halloween much better as a parent than I ever did as a kid.

I always did Halloween – I was a "rich lady" one year, dressed in a fancy dress, a fur stole and a stuffed bra that rivaled Dolly Parton. One year I was a present – a big box wrapped in wrapping paper with a bow on top and a slit for my eyes. And my favorite was the year I was a gypsy with a billowy blouse, big hoop earrings, a long peasant skirt and a scarf around my head.

But even though I did Halloween, and enjoyed it as much as any self respecting kid would enjoy any holiday involving free candy, I have to say that tonight may have been the most fun I have had on Halloween. I think I enjoyed watching my own kiddo experiencing Halloween for the first time more than I ever really enjoyed experiencing my own Halloweens.

She was completely entranced with the whole process and seemed hardly able to believe her luck each time her "trick or treat!" was met with the obligatory candy or two. Her biggest thrill of the evening though was when I told her that after we were finished trick or treating she
could dump all her candy on the floor and go through it. Her eyes got wide and she got a huge smile on her face when she said "on the floor??"

Clearly Halloween is a holiday for kids, but tonight I discovered that it actually is a pretty good holiday for parents too.

7 Months old!, originally uploaded by Justpowers.

(a couple days late)

Today is Blog Action Day 2009 and the topic is climate change. This is a post I have been wanting to write for a long time and today seems like the day to do it.

In February of 2008, I accidentally-but-also-out-of-some-morbid-curiosity clicked on a PETA link in my gmail window. It was a video, narrated by Alec Baldwin, about how animals are treated and ultimately slaughtered before they end up on our plate. I made it two minutes into the 10-minute video about chickens before I slammed my computer shut and started sobbing. Of course, it was too late; the horse was out of the barn, so to speak.

So Mike and I started discussing, again, whether we wanted to become vegetarian. Our discussion centered around whether we could give up the occasional steak we loved, or our local Peruvian rotisserie pollo that we ate on a regular basis. Of course with the images that were now in my head, I wasn’t so sure I could ever enjoy pollo again.

We were on the fence about it, until I saw a quote from an article on climate change. It said something to the effect that you can do more for the environment by not eating meat than you can by not driving your car for a year.

Wow. Seriously? This made me curious about the environmental impact, so I did some research and learned amazing little facts like this one:

An acre of prime land can produce 40,000 lbs. of potatoes, 30,000 lbs. of carrots, 50,000 lbs. of tomatoes, or 250 lbs. of beef.

And this one:

A 2006 United Nations report summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry by calling it “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

Now we had two really compelling reasons – being nicer to our fellow creatures AND helping out the environment. Then we thought about how much healthier we would be without meat in our lives. Lower fat and cholesterol in our diet, less chance of food poisoning – what’s not to love about that?

So we decided to take the plunge and go vegetarian. We switched to soy milk and stopped buying and eating meat at home. We decided to continue eating eggs and cheese, but started buying eggs from free range chickens, from local farms whenever possible. Now I am obsessed with raising our own chickens – 2 or 3 would provide all the fresh eggs we would need.

From time to time we do miss our pollo, and I can’t say that we haven’t eaten ANY meat in the last year and a half. We joke that what we actually are is “freegan” – if someone else offers us meat, we are allowed to eat it. What we have found though, is that when we do eat meat now, we usually regret it. We miss it less and less and find that the good things about being vegetarian have outweighed the occasional cravings we might have.

Part of our hesitation in becoming vegetarian was considering it an all-or-nothing decision. What we have learned is that actually we are grown-ups and we can do whatever we want. Most of the time what we want is to not eat meat. We feel better physically and know we are making a contribution to the welfare of our world – and the world our children will inherit someday.

Here is a great blog post on going vegetarian in case you want to find out more about it, or if you have even considered it but just need a little push.

I had a conversation with a Park Mom recently that left me a little annoyed.

Park Mom: Is he sleeping through the night? (referring to William)
Me: No. We co-slept with him until he was about 4 months old and he…
PM: (looking horrified) Co-slept? Like in the same BED?
Me: Yeah.
PM: Ugh.

Now, here’s the thing, I know that co-sleeping isn’t for everyone. I understand that there are those who would never ever bring their child into their bed, for whatever reason. And that’s ok. I have no interest in convincing anyone that co-sleeping is the only way to go, because it isn’t. And in the end, I don’t really care. Not “don’t really care” in a hostile sense, just “don’t really care” in the sense that I know that every family is going to do what works for them, and they should.

Park Mom, on the other hand, seemed to really care where my child spent his first four months of life. She didn’t bother to ask me about it, how we did it (with this), why we made the choice to co-sleep or why we were stopping. She just decided it was a bad idea and judged me for it.

I think the reason this exchange irked me so much is that if there is one thing I have learned as a parent is that we are all doing the best we can. We all make different choices, but we are making our choices based on what is best for us and our children. With that in mind, it seems ridiculous to me to judge any other parent for the choices they make. As ridiculous as judging someone for the color of car they choose or the breed of dog they have.

I’m far from perfect. I am pretty opinionated, generally think my way is the best way and am probably way more judgmental than I need to be about a lot of things. For some reason though, when it comes to parenting, I feel pretty strongly that different rules apply. With the exception of some clearly poor choices (schtupping your nanny while the kids are in the house with you comes to mind) I think most of us need to be left alone for the child-rearing decisions we make. I mean, I can barely figure out what is the best way for my family, let alone other people’s. Parent and let parent I say.

So, go easy Park Mom. I won’t tell you how to raise your kids if you don’t tell me how to raise mine. K?