hip to be square?
April 1, 2015 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I used to be a granola hippie. Now I'm more average. How do I shake the feeling that I'm dishonoring my past identity by being who I am now?

I feel like my 20-25 year old self would not recognize me now. I used to be vegetarian/vegan, sooo sensitive to animals, I was into juicing and raw foods, I didn't touch a drop of sugar, I didn't drink alcohol or wear makeup. No coffee. Science-y but open to lots of different theories. Loved drinking blue-green algae, eating chia seeds and taking any other marginally impactful food supplement. I think some of this was anxiety based but it was lots of fun.

Somewhere between then and now, I stopped being vegetarian (though I still aim for vegetarian 1-2 days a week, and think it's the more honorable way), I eat a balanced diet but also sugar and dairy and coffee. I buy nice clothes. I like to browse Sephora and try out hair products. I realized I haaaaate camping. I had a great experience with a chinese doctor but now I research my supplements way more carefully... Show me the studies!

To be honest, I have always felt this dichotomy in me even since my teens. I liked high heels & makeup, but I liked kale salads and fire-side kumbaya we're all one in gaia's great whatever. In my 20s I wanted to go out and party and put my self out there, but I only had the confidence to do so when I turned 30. When I hung out too much with science types I got bored, hippies made me want to go eat a chocolate bar ffs, and too much partying made me want to go find the hippies again. But it's rare that I could find someone else who was also in the middle like me. I felt like there were clear lines between groups but I could never adopt one group wholesale, because it didn't fully feel like me. Like I had to fake myself a little in each one.

I think this is coming up because I'm expecting a baby, and I'm feeling torn. 25-year old me would have spent a lot of time beaming love down to the baby, juicing, eating spelt crackers and yoga and whatever. I would have read tons of books. I would have 100% had a home birth, no drugs even if the pain is unbearable. I would have a doula and a midwife, and a doula for the midwife. I would have been baby-sleeping attachment wearing. The kid would not even know the word sugar. I would have been committed. What am I actually doing? Most days I forget that I'm pregnant (5mos along). Baby room not even started. Until last weekend all I bought was a bath toy and some nipple butter. I've been making sure to eat a variety of fruits veggies and nuts and healthy stuff every day, and I try to keep relaxed and unstressed so that stress hormones don't get to the behbeh, but I'm still wearing makeup and drink diet coke 1x a week. And coffee. And chocolate. Last week I ate a bowl of fruit loops. I only just started a prenatal yoga class. I tried to read a natural birthing book but the stories made me nauseated. I'm thinking of taking a 'birthing from within' class but for $250 can't I just wing it instead? Oh and I washed my prenatal vitamin down with a slurpee on the weekend. Christ I'm horrible. At least I'm 100% on cloth diapers because the idea of throwing away so much plastic gives me hives. But I'm feeling like I'm dishonoring my past self by not being more... hippie about the whole affair. Like I'm missing the opportunity to... what exactly? Be more hippie about the pregnancy? Pre-bond? Teach healthy eating skills? What happened to my dreams of sugar-free parenting? The other day I got excited about goldfish crackers. Who is this person?

I know this sounds mainly pregnancy-based but I've been thinking about this question for a long while now.

Anyways, do you have such a drastic hippie/science/superficial split in your interests and how have you resolved it? Can such diverse sides peacefully exist in one person?

And if you've fallen on the side of average-healthy, but remember your old self who used to gasp at the thought of sugar (or would have tried to make an ungodly healthy version at home instead, and pretended it tasted good even though it was disgusting) how do you deal? Can I put my past self at peace without feeling like I've lost something I used to hold dear? Help.
posted by serenity soonish to Human Relations (31 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A possibility: do you feel that your life is missing the meaning that it had in the past? It sounds as though your past self had a whole ethical system for interacting with the world and like you were able to [mostly] live in accordance with that system. While I'm sure that you're going to get a huge dose of "my life is meaningful now" once you are actually responsible for a fun-size human, maybe another way to approach this would be to try to think of some things that you believe now and ways that you can live your beliefs? It sounds like it's less a matter of feeling bad because you eat sugar now than missing the structure and meaning that you used to have. So - what do you believe about food justice now? (Or about other issues - racial justice, for instance) Are there things you can do in terms of volunteering or activism (or just internet stuff, what with the imminent child) or donating money, etc, that would forward those beliefs?
posted by Frowner at 12:06 PM on April 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We all live in a constant state of flux. We are in a constant state of becoming and evolving and changing; the pressures on your life now is different from the ones on your life when you were 25, and the world itself now is different from the way the world was when you were 25. You are just doing the only thing any of us can in such a world - choosing what is and isn't a priority for you, assessing what are important things and what things aren't as important any more. You can - and will - change and change again and change back and change back again many times in your life, because that is what living beings do - they change and adapt and grow.

You've just turned into a person who doesn't think that the world is going to collapse into entropy if you aren't doing prenatal yoga or something. And that's totally fine - many, many other women throughout the entire reproductive history on the planet have all gotten along just fine without knitting organic diapers or whatever. The world did not blow up because your mother used disposable Pampers on you, and your butt didn't fall off as a result either, and you recognize this. You're fine.

You're also not the only one - my brother was pretty hippie himself for a while, until my niece was born and he discovered that one of the best ways to soothe her when she was fussy was to put her in a rocking bassinet that ran on batteries. He showed it to me when she was a baby, and sheepishly confessed that he hadn't wanted to get any baby thing that used batteries - "but the only alternative was to get a basket and stand there and swing it back and forth. So it was, like, either I could relax about the batteries or I could lose my mind."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:09 PM on April 1, 2015 [19 favorites]

A woman I used to know 30+ years ago when my kids were young wrote a bestselling book on how/what to feed vegetarian babies/children. It was and still is a very good book. She drank Cokes all day long, I thought it was hilarious. Some of our holier than thou food fascist acquaintances might not have found it as amusing. What you're doing is great: you're avoiding fanaticism. You're gonna be a wonderful mama, you sound like my 3 lovely daughters-in-law.
posted by mareli at 12:16 PM on April 1, 2015 [16 favorites]

Hi! I had a homebirth but ate whatever during pregnancy, including chef boyardee. I think cloth diapers are pretty awful (my evolving feelings on them are well established here on metafilter) but I plan on breastfeeding my daughter until she tells me to stop, pretty much. We sometimes babywear and sometimes use a big expensive stroller. My daughter is vaccinated, uses fluoride, xylitol and cod liver oil for cavity prevention.

We are large. We contain multitudes. My daughter is happy and adorable and is watching Curious George right now and just ate a chicken nugget. Go ahead, judge. She just took her first steps and has started blowing her daddy kisses. Outside judgment doesn't stop me from kvelling.

Parenting is full of people telling you that you're doing it wrong, that you don't know what's best for your body or your kid or your family. A lot of these people want to sell you things--supplements or designer diaper covers or handwoven German wraps or snuzas or formula or cribs--it just goes on and on, from both sides of the divide.

Look, do what feels right to you. Your instincts are good instincts. That might mean crying it out and it might mean co-sleeping until your kid hits puberty. It might mean breastfeeding or it might mean never breastfeeding. It might mean mommy-n-me yoga or baby einstein videos. It might mean a homebirth or a scheduled c-section.

I can passionately defend my own choices, but I can't tell you what is right for you. You are unique and the baby inside of you is unique. Embrace the distinct happenstance of your dyad. Your kid will shape your parenting more than you can imagine. It's all very abstract right now, but that will change, soon enough.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:22 PM on April 1, 2015 [16 favorites]

Excellent comments by EmpressCallipygos and the others. I remember reading about various back-to-the-land people who deliberately tried to farm using equipment from the 1800s, and then realized it was long and boring and there was a reason why tractors and pre-churned butter were embraced later.

We are always growing and learning. As my uncle always says: "the first 100 years are the hardest."
posted by Melismata at 12:25 PM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I've had a bit of the same experience. For example, I was Seriously Conflicted about shaving my legs for the first time in ~15 years. Did that mean I wasn't feminist anymore? Why would I "waste" the resources of water and razor for stupid "vanity" reasons? And a sweet, deeply feminist friend reminded me that I could always give the razor away and grow the hair back if I wanted to. Our decisions are important to us, but they really don't make that much difference on a global scale. Seeing that, I've bought some makeup and took up eating meat again (so much! 20s me would be Appalled!), and generally made a lot of decisions that make me happy, but occasionally laugh at how different they are from the way I once was.

Here's the thing - being environmentally "virtuous" was partially just a reaction to low self-esteem and anxiety. So now I still try to bike most places and make environmentally-informed decisions, but also tend to a lot more of the "enh, fuck 'em" attitude that you've described with some of the decisions you're making that surprise you.

PS - not your question. But if cloth diapers end up being a pain, I went to a shower this weekend where all the new moms loved these as a compromise.
posted by ldthomps at 12:31 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You've turned from an extremist to a moderate. And most extremists are incredibly difficult people to be around unless you subscribe to their brand of extremism. You even describe this yourself - I felt like there were clear lines between groups but I could never adopt one group wholesale, because it didn't fully feel like me. Like I had to fake myself a little in each one.

Your child is probably going to have a much happier life with a mom who makes rational choices based on her own knowledge and experiences, rather than just picking up the choices mandated by a group identity. How do I know this? Well. I don't know everything about his past, but my dad used to be a big anarchist type in the 60s and 70s. Showed me his old black cat and black flag pins once. He's super moderate now, but growing up with him was so great because he was a guy who had learned how to think about and question his own beliefs, to pick the ones that worked for him and consciously practice them while discarding those that made no sense. He's one of the most thoughtful and intelligent people I know, and I look up to him a lot, and I feel like I can actually talk to him about important shit even if we disagree.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2015 [19 favorites]

Best answer: I think that this feeling (in whatever form, whether hippie, punk, activist, or whatever 'purity' we were once invested in) is really common. I try to remind myself that it was easier to stay staunchly devoted to that set of ideals in my 20s when my life was less complicated by having a professional job, a longterm partnership, and being a parent. I know it potentially sounds like a cop-out, but things get complicated, and everybody's just trying to hold it together the best that they can. I guess I just want to nudge you to be easy on yourself.
posted by umbú at 12:40 PM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Something else to consider: whenever I get too hung up about this stuff, on whether I should be giving my kid more hand-hewn Waldorf toys or try again with our second hand (but still expensive) didymos wrap even though my daughter haaaaated it, I think a lot about how these things are often classism in disguise, a rejection of the entertainment, food, and childcare "choices" of the lower class (and I put choice in quotation marks because often there's no choice at all). They're signifiers of wealth and class. It's hard to have a homebirth on Medicaid. A slurpee is cheaper and faster than brewing your own kombucha. Cloth diapers are way, way easier with a stay at home parent to do some of the laundry, and often aren't accepted by daycare providers. Pre-natal yoga and Music Together classes are expensive. It's hard to have a baby up all night breastfeeding in your bed if you work a 9-5, harder still, to find time to pump in the workplace. It is really easy to not stress out your babster if you don't have to work, you know? But so many parents don't have a choice in any of these matters.

This doesn't mean there's not value in some of these things. I enjoy some of them myself; some are cornerstones of my own parenting practices. But I think it's important to be really intersectional with one's parenting beliefs, or at least aware of intersectionality--babywearing and co-sleeping were common in communities of color, but were once thought of as primitive or even criminal, until those practices were quite literally appropriated by the white middle and upper class.

More than any stringent adherence to any specific parenting dogma, your child will be helped by having a parent who is sensitive and aware, not only of the global ecological impact of parenting practices but also of the external forces which shape our choice and illusion of choice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:42 PM on April 1, 2015 [49 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, oh my god yes I grapple with this. I'm a former-hippie-deep-soulful-artist-lit-major turned computer programmer. I don't read poetry anymore. I earn a decent living and I don't think communism and anarchism are good ideas any more. Yup, I can't even look my old self in the eyes. But I'm sort of joking here; I just try to roll with these betrayal-of-self feelings and chuckle about them. I try to remember: yes, this is my life and I actually have a right to change. I am not beholden to the ideals of my youth.

It's a cliche for a reason: the only constant is change. You changed before getting pregnant, but motherhood will change you again, and again, and then again. It's wonderful, life is, so full of surprises. Who knows who you will be in 5 years, 10 years? I try to see that as a fantastic thing.
posted by kitcat at 12:46 PM on April 1, 2015 [9 favorites]

Psh, you sound awesome. You sound a lot like my spouse and I used to be. I'd be happy that you're familiar with all that stuff, recognizing that some is science-y and some is on the woo side; that some is valuable and aspirational going forward, but some is worth leaving behind. You've simply grown up, and decided not to make an ideology of it as many have done.

Thing is, you're human, and we have a way of searching for order and meaning in our lives. I bet when forming babby gets here you'll find a different category of meaning (and some semblance of order) in your life.
posted by resurrexit at 12:47 PM on April 1, 2015

An exercise that helps me is to imagine that my child is asking me the question that I am struggling with. Sometimes it brings clarity.

My kid is small now, but I take real joy in how he is growing physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially. It's obvious to me that the changes in him are good, natural, and inevitable.

When is a good age to stop growing? Never!
posted by pizzazz at 12:58 PM on April 1, 2015

I remember the granola hippies; I used to hang with them. Or attempted to, until I got tired of being yelled at by them. My crimes ranged anywhere between watching television to loving malted milk balls.
You know you're on the right road when you realize that you're not trying to be a nut. Or, go ahead and be one, but don't proselytize. If you don't hew to extremes, your kid-to-be won't have anything to rebel against.
Relax and have a martini.
posted by BostonTerrier at 1:03 PM on April 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Can I put my past self at peace without feeling like I've lost something I used to hold dear?

Pregnancy has a way of making women begin to reevaluate everything, partly because so much of what is happening and going to happen to you is both completely dependent on you and completely, utterly outside of your control. There is so much fear at the other end of the happy glow, because what if something does go wrong, and what if it's my fault -- to the point where many mothers of kids with issues blame themselves for those issues even when they demonstrably had nothing to do with it.

It sounds to me like you were at peace with this new, calmer, moderate you who is truthful about your wants and needs up until you became pregnant, and now that it impacts on someone else, you want to squeeze yourself back into that box, even if it isn't you, just so that you feel like you have something under control. Which makes perfect sense.

But if you're already acknowledging that (for example) not all herbal supplements are healthier (or even safe at all), then you already know that what you're doing is actually coming from a place of more control. Being rational about your choices is far better for you and your baby than blindly following what "people say" is best.

If it helps, your way of living now is actually a really good foundation for when the baby comes. You can find a book or an expert to tell you all sorts of "musts" about parenting, but in my experience 99% of parenting requires the ability to Roll With It. That baby is going to throw all sorts of surprises at you over his or her lifetime, and keeping your knees flexible and able to say "no more sugar today" or "How about pancakes for dinner tonight" depending on what your little one needs, is much easier on you and likely to get good results, than any rigid set of rules with no workarounds.
posted by Mchelly at 1:10 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think as we age, we see the tones of gray between the stark black and whites that were so obvious in our early 20s. So it makes sense that our opinions and our drive and our dedication to topics can change, too. Sooo many people are just trying to sell us stuff, it can really get hard to get behind any topic these days without a grain of skepticism.

And, at 5 months pregnant, I didn't have anything picked out at all, either. The nesting instinct didn't kick in until month 7ish, with a huge push about 3 or 4 weeks before my kid was born.
posted by jillithd at 1:30 PM on April 1, 2015

I look back on my "will eat no sugar" phase, that lasted a few years, and I realize I have a genetic disorder that was not diagnosed at the time. Now that I have a diagnosis and I am empowered to properly care for myself, thus I am healthier, I tolerate sugar better than I once did. So it isn't the end of the world morally/psychologically/whatever because it isn't the end of the world anymore physically. It no longer makes me black out from severe hypoglycemia, so sugar in moderation is now A-Okay for me.

I will suggest that your "purity" years may have positively changed your baseline health such that you tolerate things that once caused problems. No big. In fact, that's a good thing.

My ex considered me to be a flake. There are plenty of people who still do. I have always had one foot in the camp of "flake" -- I believe in astrology and reincarnation and what not -- and one in the camp of science. I really don't think that is strange at all.

Historically, a lot of science was done by seriously religious people. Mendel was a friar and a scientist. His work was very important to the science of genetics. On both Hacker News and MetaFilter, a lot of "woo" stuff (for lack of a better word) and even religion is fairly often maligned. Plenty of people seem to think that if you are scientific you cannot be spiritual or religious because those things aren't "logical" or something. Nonetheless, there are plenty of people in both places who are programmers or scientists and also religious (or whatever).

This belief that you have to choose between valuing science and your hippie values is a false dichotomy. Science and religion/spirituality are two separate things. In order to fall under the umbrella of science, it must be "disprovable." As I understand it, god is not something you can disprove. Thus, there is no contradiction between valuing both science and something "unscientific" like religion or spirituality (or ethics or whatever it is you want to call this thing that drove your hippie years and makes you judgey about how you have since fallen or something).

I am okay with how I am. I have never felt like there was some need to choose one or the other. To me, the only issue is that a lot of other people find it weird. So I try to pick and choose a bit what kinds of things I talk about with which groups. I don't think there is any requirement that any one group be all things to me at all times. It might help if you let go of the idea that some particular group should be some perfect fit for all parts of yourself.

Best of luck. And congrats on the pregnancy.
posted by Michele in California at 2:22 PM on April 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

I almost killed my baby and myself trying to have a granola first time delivery at home. It turned into a 55 hour nightmare of sepsis, jaundice and really it was terrible. However we all strike a pose in our youth, and if being an earth person resonates with you, especially as you get ready tp have a child, remember a relationship with the earth is the greatest gift you can share with children. No problem, be a granola, it won't be as easy as you think to pry your kid from the transhuman bewilderworld.
posted by Oyéah at 2:25 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think that everyone has multiple facets to their character, like a precious cut stone. The faster the stone turns in the light, the more it sparkles. People who are all set in their ways by 22 are rather dull, I think. Your 50 year old self will look back at you now in amazement. You're not just what you consume or buy or wear or eat. Your child is more than what type of diapers she poops in.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:36 PM on April 1, 2015 [8 favorites]

Instead of looking back on yourself at age 22, when you were a True Believer, and feeling ashamed that that person would judge you for your choices now, consider recognizing all the growth and life lessons and experience that have stood between you now and you then. It's not a coincidence that we're all self-involved and true believers at age 22, and most of us mellow out considerably by our 30s. All that life experience counts for something.

Now consider the fact that you're looking forward to parenthood and that you have a ton of ideas of how you'll do that thing- pregnancy, birth, parenthood, etc. And then think forward to who you might be, 5 years from now, when you've made different choices than you think you'll make. You'll probably similarly wish that your pregnant self was a little more understanding and flexible and not so judgey.

I fell down the natural birth rabbithole last year when I was pregnant. That was only the first of a series of plans I had for parenthood. Turns out that I am not the parent I thought I would be! He's seven months old, the apple of my damn eye, and none of this is working out like I thought it would. (He was born via c-section. He's been exclusively breastfed, but I have some very strong anti-breastfeeding, anti-lactivist opinions now. He's never worn any of the cloth diapers that I was so sure I'd use.)

So take this time to recognize that life lessons and growth and acceptance of ourselves are all a good thing, and that should drive you to be less harsh on both the past you AND the future you.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:41 PM on April 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sorry hit post a bit too fast--
I think that your wanting to make meaningful consumer choices is admirable, but buying lipstick at Sephora doesn't mean you're not making ethical decisions. Your youthful ideals and practices were appropriate for you then, but your choices today are appropriate for you now. You're honoring yourself by being who you are now, instead of clinging to the 20something version. I think that's part of growing up, and to be commended.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:44 PM on April 1, 2015

Seconding what everyone on this page has said. You used to be dogmatic. Now you are rational, and open to making reasonable choices instead of being a fundamentalist sugar-hater. This is a good change. You are still a conscientious, responsible person who cares about the world.

btw, I googled "birthing from within", and here is the big headline quote on their website:
“The landscape of labor is not linear, but rather twists and turns like the path of a labyrinth, awakening great determination, doubt, faith... and love.” I have a feeling I'm not supposed to be judgmental on this website so, um, yeah. Let's just say my preferred headline would be, "It will hurt like hell, in fact like nothing you've ever experienced before... your body will not change for the better... but then you'll have a baby that you will love forever." Save your $250 for baby stuff!
posted by LauraJ at 3:04 PM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: How you lived your life in your youth is the foundation of the life you live now. Respect it and honor it, but there's no need to slavishly worship it.
posted by kindall at 3:06 PM on April 1, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I was just making jokes today about how most of my vegan straight edge friends of 10 years ago are no longer either. This is all really common. (I can't really speak to the pregnancy stuff because I haven't had that experience yet.)

I think a lot of people when they go through their hippie/punk youth move on and don't really think about it until uncomfortable memories creep in. Like "25 y/o me would be ashamed that I'm drinking a slurpee now." or "In my youth I really hated people who shopped at Sephora." Whatever, lots of people have been overly earnest kids who drifted with age into a more easygoing, normal existence. We've all been there to some degree.

If it really bothers you in a way you want to change what you're doing now, rather than just shrugging it off, then I would suggest exploring what you might want to retain from your dogmatic hippie era. There's balance in everything, and some of it might require more effort from you now but it also might make you feel better. It sounds like you've gone from one extreme to another. Instead of asking "Who is this person?" Try to be the person you want to be. I could really see pregnancy as a time to re-establish some things in a more moderate way (if that's what you want). I think having that conversation with yourself over time can really help keep you aware of these trends.

For me, one way I've felt OK with this process has been laughing at some of my more extreme beliefs but also keeping a dialog with myself to make sure I'm actually OK with my current course. It got really weird after we bought a house when most of my friends can't even afford to consider it right now. I felt like we were betraying our hippie punk roots by being landed gentry. Of course then I faced friction with my neighbors on matters when I realized they didn't share some of my more punk philosophies. I realized through it all that while I'm not who I was 10 or 15 years ago, I'm not too far off in many ways. I've eased on some things and worked hard on tolerance and acceptance, but I think my younger-self would still have coffee with me today.
posted by kendrak at 3:16 PM on April 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: But I'm feeling like I'm dishonoring my past self by not being more... hippie about the whole affair. Like I'm missing the opportunity to... what exactly? Be more hippie about the pregnancy? Pre-bond? Teach healthy eating skills? What happened to my dreams of sugar-free parenting? The other day I got excited about goldfish crackers. Who is this person?

Congrats, it's going to be much easier to be a parent with a little more ... flexibility about the world and your place in it. I'm also someone who has moved away from a somewhat more idealistic mindset into one that is more practical and works for me. Part of the real change was realizing that in order to be an activist (which was my main thing at the time) I sort of needed to not only always been an activist, but that being dogmatic about things cut me off form a great number of people who I otherwise might have enjoyed, learned things from, whatever. So part of me moving away from true believerdom was a lot about moving more towards ... the world that is full of other people, people who are different from me and who make different choices are who "hold up just as much of the sky" as I do, or whatever it is. My activist friends mostly either grew more relaxed about their principles, or got adult jobs where they live their values as a job, and some of them just became tiresome scolds.

I don't know about you but when I hung around with hippies a lot there was a lot of sanctimony about life choices, choices that maybe should have been personal. And the way I look at it as someone who is 20 years past that is that I am what hippies are like, right now. Some are more true believerish than I am, some are less. I'm in there somewhere, sticking up for generalized hippie values without supporting every last thing on the hippie manifesto. And I live in the world with people who have different outlooks and we try to find places of mutual agreement, not just look down our noses at each other. And I'm a grown lady with a job and I can help buy things that other hippies make and support hippie businesses or just tell people "Yeah you know I don't look much like a hippie but I beleive [insert hippie belief here]"

Some hippies eat Froot Loops.

More to the point I think that a lot (most?) people have a little setting in their head which is just about how much they feel that they fit in (to ANYTHING) and some people are just less settled in an idea or an identity or a location, and some are not, more certain, feel more at home with more things. You may find that you'll feel ootchy no matter where you are because that's just the way your head is set. So then deal with the ootchy feeling as its own thing and not the symptom of a larger problem. You'll do just fine.
posted by jessamyn at 4:56 PM on April 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I know where you're coming from! From 19-24, during and right after I got my degree at MIT, I lived in a co-op with 30 other people, spent virtually no money, owned almost nothing, shared everything I had, and made all my staple foods. I stayed up having Meaningful Discussions with dear friends more nights than not, I volunteered in intense positions that took a great deal of emotional energy, I played with the best music groups I've ever played with in my life, I wrote a blog full of big ideas and self-defining essays and such, and I was just generally REALLY INTENSE about my principles, my values and my goals.

And dear god, I am exhausted and sometimes embarrassed to look back at myself at age 22. It's not that I think I was terribly misguided - it was a really formative time for me, and it was amazing and worth it in every way - but when I think back to some conversations I had back then with my parents, I just cringe. I took everything so seriously! I took myself so seriously! And sometimes my dogged adherence to my values did kinda get me in trouble. I wasn't as flexible as I am now.

Now I'm 29 and I have a toddler and I'm about to finish my PhD and life has worn me down a bit, and not in a bad way. I really do know how you feel - for example, I chronically feel terribly guilty that my entire kitchen sits unused for about 22.5 hours every day. What a waste! Every month or two I have a terrible resurgence of environmentalist passion and I spent days brainstorming about how I can lessen my impact, show my son good environmental stewardship, and teach him to appreciate and respect nature. I feel really, really guilty about all the plastic containers I buy, especially if I buy (for example) individual fruit cups for my son when we're traveling, which is really convenient but soooooo wasteful... You get the idea.

Whatever was radical about me is most definitely still inside, subdued a bit by the demands of my life right now, but I haven't forgotten what I knew or what I learned, and you won't either. You won't lose yourself. It'll just come up in different ways, and you'll have to be patient with yourself and with your dreams.

My inner radical can't help but remind you that conforming to a stereotype, like "hippie", however wholesome, is not ultimately as authentic as making your own choices, one by one. It's much more time-consuming, of course, and young people can learn a great deal by becoming a hippie, or a punk rocker, or an activist - it's not a bad thing. But when you find yourself becoming flexible and making your own choices rather than sticking to the "party line" - congratulations. You're not disloyal. You're an adult.
posted by Cygnet at 5:41 PM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Nthing what everyone else has said, times a million.

Partly how it resolves is you have the baby, and then have an actual very small person to deal with, who is their own person with their own preferences. Mine is 6mo and his personality is really starting to shine through - he's starting to want to do specific things now (or not now!), and having his own interests. I've found having a baby, and all the work it entails, really cuts the crap. If the choice is between living up to some ideal or doing whatever works and allows you to be a good parent... you do the latter (hopefully).

I could write a lot and give examples, but you've had so many good replies... and I got three hours' sleep last night due to a very noisy very unhappy 6mo old who is sick and teething! I've had lots of healthy food and probiotics - and 3 cups of coffee (I'm at work!). He's had teething rings and rusks and homeopathic gel... and panadol and Peppa Pig. You know who had the worst diet I ever saw? My vegan roommate in college... here is a list of vegan breakfast cereal and most of it is terrible for you!

You are just a person who likes Goldfish crackers. That's it. It doesn't have to mean anything more than that. I like them too, because CHEESE. They are delicious! If I had a trust fund i.e. nothing else to do and lots of household help I'd make my own, sure. But I don't. So, yum Goldfish!

Welcome to the grey area - the multitudes are far far more interesting!
(Congratulations! On both the baby, and on your new multitudes!)
posted by jrobin276 at 5:57 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm somewhat sympathetic because it's hard to go through those periods of identity tumult that happen in our lives. At the same time, you are about to be a mother, and your focus is about to be on your child. Your child's needs and preferences and choices. Maybe shifting the focus away from yourself will help resolve some of your anxiety.

You're an autonomous agent and can make the choices that you like about what to feed your baby and how to interact with your baby and how to diaper your baby, and you'll probably make better decisions if they are not driven by aesthetics or a desire to mold yourself to a particular identity, but what works for you. It's not really necessary to "honor" our self images. Our selves aren't an altar. Do you want to be sensitive to animals and juice things because you care and it's important to you, or because it fits in with a sort of abstract holistic image of how people or supposed to be? If you throw out all the business about self image, what's important to you actually? In the realms of nutrition, parenting, valuing, etc. etc. That's a better crisis to have.
posted by mermily at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2015

What helps me is to think of the conveniences of motherhood as feminist inventions. Formula or disposable diapers or baby food pouches may not be the most "natural" things but "natural" motherhood meant devoting 100% of your time and energy to feeding and cleaning your baby and home. These conveniences empower women to take back some of that time and energy, for just enjoying their children, or for working, or for self-care.

Also, skip the expensive woo-woo labor class, but don't just wing it! Take a regular class for regular people, it's so helpful.
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:37 PM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think that being a purist comes with a lot of stress. "Oh no, this salad dressing has a microgram of soy oil when I only eat olive and coconut oil." Stress has been scientifically linked to all manner of health issues. I think the moderate approach you're talking is gentle on you and on baby.

At some point, you'll begin to really want to get the nursery ready, etc. Newborns don't need that much, beyond a car seat. Maybe you're spending your energy on the internal adjustments associated with this big change in your life.
posted by salvia at 10:10 PM on April 2, 2015

Oh yeah, +1 on considering "conveniences of motherhood as feminist inventions." My mom would say "you know if men gave birth there'd be even more amazing pain killers," so when I hear of someone choosing to use birth interventions like pain medicine, I view it as the miracles of modern medicine being put at her service.
posted by salvia at 10:14 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe a different rephrasing of a concept that has arisen in these great and thoughtful replies: your flexibility will serve you very very well as a new parent. There will be many circumstances and situations that are nothing like what you thought would happen, and far more that you will realize you never even could begin to imagine, before your baby came along. And mama, you are going to need to find your way through. Being able to improvise, being able to accept that What Works For Your Family is different than what you expected, being able to deal with the fact that other people can get intensely judgmental about stuff when they don't fully understand your circumstances... These will serve you very well.

It's good that you are thoughtful and principled and being true to yourself, and want to do your best without crucifying yourself for your imagined or projects shortcomings. That's actually a great stance for approaching parenthood. You'll be fine!
posted by Sublimity at 7:30 AM on April 5, 2015

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