Confessions of a lazy earth-mother

This weekend, while my sister visited, we talked about cooking. Big surprise.

Specifically, we talked about how our cooking has evolved and how much simpler our grocery lists are now than they used to be, because now we cook from scratch far more than we ever did before. Our pantries are not packed with boxes of dried this and mixes of that. They are, instead, full of ingredients. Flour, sugar, rice, beans, yeast, potatoes, etc. I haven’t started making my own pasta yet, so you will still find bags of pasta in my cupboard, but I am this close to crossing that line and eliminating even one more thing from my grocery list.

In many ways, this is a vast improvement – and I’m not just talking about the obvious health benefits of cooking from scratch – health benefits like knowing how much sodium is in a dish because you salted it yourself, and knowing that you’re not eating a bowl full of preservatives at every meal, and knowing that your bread REALLY IS whole grain and isn’t tricking you with fancy marketing words. No, we also thought it was an improvement because it actually made cooking easier in some ways. Easier in the sense that now when it comes time to cook dinner, we always have something on hand. We don’t say “Oh, shoot, I’m out of brownie mix!” because we always have brownie ingredients on hand. Shopping is simpler when you keep quanties of ingredients on hand instead of a bajillion individual boxes and pre-made items. Not to mention cheaper.

Making my own baby food is a similar concept. The day is coming very soon when I will simply puree or chop up a bit of whatever Mr. Meat and Potatoes and I are having for dinner, instead of having a completely separate (or jarred) meal for Johnny. And, I get to feel like an earth-mother while I do it.

I have been making my own laundry soap, and in many ways it is a relief. I hate the feeling of “Dammit! I can’t do laundry because we’re out of the liquid!” Now, the ingredients are always on hand and I can whip up another batch whenever I want. I have to shop for it much less frequently.

Amy and I were talking about the change in food trends over the years. Our grandmothers cooked everything from scratch out of necessity. My mother’s generation went to work, and out came the TV dinners. Hamburger Helper was born. And now, our generation, with Hamburger Helper as a perfectly viable (and sometimes necessary) option, is trending back to the ways of our grandmother. All of this is WONDERFUL, right? We are doing better by our environment, our families, our pocketbooks. RIGHT?

Well, some feminists say WRONG. There is a notion out there that the whole foods/green movement is very bad for womens’ rights. I have to admit that the concept of making all my bread from scratch makes me itchy. And I don’t feel like I have time to hang my laundry on the line to save dryer energy. And I don’t know very many men who take on the soap-making, baby food pureeing, scratch-cooking aspect of the home life. No, the bulk of those jobs fall to women. And most women, these days, work outside the home. So now we’re doing the jobs of our stay-at-home grandmas AND holding down 40-plus hours a week of J.O.B.

The list of things we should do if we were being really good stewards of the environment gets very long, very quickly, if we are honest with ourselves. We should raise chickens and have fresh eggs instead of factory farmed eggs. We should grow our own vegetables and tend our own gardens. We should use cloth diapers instead of disposable, get a rain barrel, compost our leftovers, sort our recycling, get a DivaCup, ride a bike instead of drive a car.

Some of these things are easy – even fun. Some are next to impossible, and some are somewhere in between. But most if not all of them fall under the category of Stuff Women Take Care Of. I can't ride a bike to work because I have to take the baby with me to the babysitter's. I suppose I could schlep him behind me in a Kid Cart but that would mean leaving for work like an hour early. An hour that would come from WHERE?

Many things I mention in this post are things that I would love to do – love love love. But I have an infant in my house. Who wants me to hold him. And I want to hold him, as much as possible. Our weekdays start at 5:30 am and end at 9:00 pm and only three to four of those hours are time when the baby and I and daddy are in the same place and awake. Our weekends are full of family events, birthdays, weddings, shopping trips, visitors, and friends.

So this post is for all of you who feel overwhelmed, and more guilty than ever about being a working mom. This Earth Day, GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.

Earth-mothering is wonderful, when we can get around to it. Bake a loaf this week, buy one next week. And, if a TV dinner slips in there somewhere, so be it. If your garden suffers because you took your kid to the park, that’s great.

Also, I recommend having a margarita (pre-mixed if you don’t have time to squeeze lemons!) over hanging laundry.

The earth will forgive you.

Comments

smerdyakov 12 years, 2 months ago

Amen!

Say, how bout a recipe for that laundry soap stuff??

smerdyakov 12 years, 2 months ago

Beauty... thanks. Evidently I need to read more internets on Sundays.

lori 12 years, 2 months ago

I love having a cold beer or a nice glass of wine while hanging out my laundry. On some things, you can have your cake and eat it, too. The golden rule of parenting (and I think this applies to all aspects of life): do what makes sense to you and what works for you and your family.

And what makes sense to me is drinking a beer while hanging out my laundry.

rivercitymom 12 years, 2 months ago

Amen, sister! I also love, love, love to do the around-the-house stuff. I really do, and my kids are teenagers so they even help a little and (sigh) don't need me to hold them anymore, at least not very much.

But, still, you are SO RIGHT when you say that most of the earth-saving tasks fall to the woman of the house and, since this woman of the house also works 40+ hours a week I have come to terms with what I can and cannot do. I can recycle, I can use canvas shopping bags, I can load the dishwasher to bursting before I run it, I can refuse to buy plastic water bottles and keep track of the environmentally friendly ones so everyone can leave the house with one - argh. I canNOT make time to hang laundry and a bike is not an option to cart children plus friends around. I cannot raise chickens but can do a few tomatoes!

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 2 months ago

RC Mom - your choices sound very similar to my own, and I must say, I appreciate the comment as it makes me feel a little better. ;)

Rae Hudspeth 12 years, 2 months ago

Hells yah. And some of that earth-friendly crap is just that .. marketing. I'm finding out lately that whole-grain isn't all its' cracked up to be (har!) for healthy eating either. Totally with you on cooking simpler though, a grilled meat and side salad is heaven on a plate.

When I hang up the sheets outside and a bird flies over and drops a deposit or two on them, then I have to wash them all over again, I fail to see the economy in that. -- my friend Lydia

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