I got SO excited when I read this headline on SheKnows.com. I realize that being environmentally friendly is important. There’s a reason that “green marketing” has been so effective, everyone really does want to do their share and save the planet and leave our children with a better world. Really, we do!
But it’s not easy. It’s expensive and it’s time-consuming and sometimes, it’s downright exhausting to put so much effort into one more thing… one more thing every mother can feel guilty about. As a young, single mother, my daughter ate Gerber baby food, I used disposable diapers and we didn’t own a single piece of organic cotton clothing. The reason? Time and money. Yes, growing my vegetables might have saved money, but I definitely didn’t have the time to garden. I could hardly shower. Farmer’s markets are great, but they are also an expensive way to shop. There is a reason that Whole Foods only exists in big cities or affluent suburbs. I realize that disposable diapers are more expensive, but daycares don’t do cloth. And honestly, my tiny apartment was not equipped for the laundering of all those cloth diapers. (Neither were my nerves.) Organic clothing is nice, but it’s also double the price.
Organic motherhood sounds great in theory. But the reality of young, working, single mother just didn’t mix with the whimsical stay-at-home land of organic motherhood. I saw this headline and I thought, Someone is going to finally admit that organic motherhood just isn’t realistic for everyone. Yes, we all know that its the ideal. We all wish we could save the world. But some of us are too busy saving our sanity and our savings accounts (if we’re lucky enough to have them). I was practically shaking at the idea of having a little validation.
And then…. SheKnows kicked me in the jaw. They weren’t defending mothers who were trying their hardest but not making it to the “Perfect Wife/Mother/Woman/Environmentalist” image. They were letting me know that even if I did spend the extra money to go organic, it still wouldn’t be enough. I would be buying into a marketing scheme and not really helping the planet. All those easy ways to be “eco-friendly”, the expensive ways, they are just status symbols. Truly wonderful mothers will make the effort themselves, grow their own food, monitor the labor practices of the brands you buy. In other words: I’m not only poor, I’m lazy.
I’m not saying that organic motherhood is a bad thing. Obviously it’s not. It’s admirable. For those women who have the time and resources to put into it, I salute you! I wish I was more like you. Unfortunately, as a working mother, going back to school, I have precious few hours to spend with my daughter. I want those hours to be full of playtime and reading and giggling and playing dress-up. By concentrating on that, I lose any time I might have had to grow my own food or make my own products. And that trade-off is worth it to me.
I wish that more websites would acknowledge that organic motherhood has limits. I wish we could all agree that these awesome little tips just won’t work for everyone. Because I think it will help assuage the guilt that lots of mothers face at our inability to be the perfect mother and the perfect global citizen. If being eco-friendly didn’t seem like such an all-or-nothing concept, more stressed and busy mothers might be willing to take small steps towards organic motherhood, instead of ignoring the whole movement because we’re tired of hearing that we’re never doing enough.