Freedom From Fundamentalism

I grew up on the east coast, lived for eleven years in a tiny ski town in Colorado and five years ago moved to the north bay area of California.  I settled in a small progressive town about an hour north of San Francisco in Sonoma County.  The weather, beautiful coastline, foods, and free spirited lifestyle still feels like I’m on an extended vacation.  The biggest change is that all of the things in my life that were considered “different” or “alternative”, were very much the norm here.  There are three Waldorf schools in town and for a Waldorf teacher, this is really nice.  Yes, for job opportunities and to send my own child to one of these fine schools but also because I was tired of  being asked “a Waldorf teacher?”…”like the salad?”  Yes.  Like the salad. Though a Waldorf salad in this town would sound something like this: heritage black walnuts-biodynamic grapes-backyard grown organic celery-old growth local organic apples– you get the picture.  This was great, but I would notice that when I was out at a restaurant, folks here had more even more questions.  More as in “Is it gluten/soy/dairy/ free?”  “Is it Paleo?”  “Where was this carrot grown?”  “Are the herbs in that vegan burger organic?”  This scenario that takes place every day here can be best reflected in this hilarious clip from the show Portlandia.  If you have a minute, please do yourself a favor and watch before reading on.
  The characters in this video, they live here in my town.  In fact, my husband and I laughed so hard when we saw it; “I know people like that” we would chuckle. I was probably too sleep deprived to realize that I was one of “those people” too.

Little did I know, I had become one of “those people” too. 

As a mother, I stepped into this new role with awe and intimidation. With years in my pocket as an early childhood teacher, I had a lot of ideas about how to raise my child in a respectful, nurturing and holistic way.  This town was the perfect place to practice this mindful mothering path.  The first few months my baby was dressed in organic cotton, swaddled in plant dyed silk and rested upon a lambswool when not in our arms.  Breastfeeding lent itself as the perfect inspiration for the uber-nourished-mama-diet.  Nettles, coconut meat, fermented foods to build baby’s digestive flora, local organic fruits and veggies in season and super foods like chia and pumpkin seeds.  When my son began to eat solid foods, we started with homegrown veggies that I knew were organic and fresh. I found locally grown organic grains and ground them myself with an old fashioned hand crank grinder.  My son eats the freshest local biodynamic produce, and a few weeks ago we bought into a cow share for raw milk.  We were asked to come and get to know the cow (Delilah) and her calf before we were offered a share.  I grew up eating Lipton’s chicken noodle soup packets (just add water), now I’m becoming more like a cross between Chef Alice Waters and Ma Ingalls.
Last month our family of three took a trip back east to visit my mother.  This is her first grand baby and she couldn’t be more in love.  My mom borrowed a crib, a car seat, a stroller, bought a portable high chair, wooden toys and stocked the fridge with baby friendly foods that she traveled far and wide to procure or make herself.  Of course, we were grateful beyond words.  Through the week I noticed this little voice first in my head wondering things like “Is this crib mattress organic?”, “How about the sheets?”, “Is that yam that you roasted organic?”,  “Where did you buy it?”, “What kind of laundry detergent is that?”,  “Did you reheat that in the microwave?”,  “Is that a plastic cup?”.  Gasp! Then some of those inner wonderings were spoken.  At first, I felt righteous and wise sharing my infinite knowledge of a wholesome lifestyle with my mother. HA!  I am a mother now too, and our baby will have the best of the best that we can give him.  But then, I realized that I was acting like a twit.  She was giving him the best of her best , which is all I could wish for.  Only at the moment, I could’t even see that.  Quickly I realized that I was that character ordering chicken on Portlandia, I have become those people!  That’s me!  No! Yes. I have become a food-amentalist.  One can be a fundamentalist about anything, from religion to kombucha.  Being a fundamentalist about anything does not feel suitable for my values nor something I want to model for my son. In that moment, I humbly realized what an obstacle I was creating for my mom’s new role as a Nana.  And an obstacle for myself as I strive to model for my child the fundamentals of gratitude, family values, community, and love.  I felt like a materialist, an over-the-topper.  This nonsense was creating barriers for my true fundamental wish for authentic relationships in our family and circle of friends.  Why was I willing to create these boxes and be so judgmental?
As a student in my Lifeways training, the phrase “relationship base care” struck a chord deeply with me.  Basically, children thrive when they are around adults the are being authentic, warm, and enjoying life. Children are looking to us to understand the feelings that accompany the activity, children pick this up even more than the activity itself at times. The beingness is greater than the doingness. No matter what food we can offer, what are the feelings or words being served as a side dish? Is it seasoned with “this is not good enough”? How am I connecting with my child during the activity of eating or nursing, washing, diapering, sweeping, etc.
My food-a-mentalism was already vilifying people; not just anyone but the ones I hold most dear.  I want to model warmth, sincerity, gratitude, community, and love.  That is what I wanted more for my son.  More than a biodynamically grown yam.  Family that was full of warmth and love with one another and, above all, being authentic and creating connection.The next day at my mother’s house, I sat by the window and watched as my son sat on her lap and ate peas.  He was squealing with delight as he carefully picked up each pea and popped into his mouth.  I  watched my mother caressing his dimpled little hands and holding her open palm for him to choose another,  They were smitten with each other.  I couldn’t think of any pea more nourishing that the ones she fed him that day right out of the can.


Eating Peas with Nana.

Leave a Comment