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I hung up on my mother this weekend. Childish, wrong, silly, I know. On Christmas Day we had dinner at her house. On each of the kids’ plates there was a large — and I do mean LARGE — puke green Grinch lollipop. My mom’s neighbor is one of those holiday bakers that I can only aspire to be one day. She made the pops in a mold, and gave them to my mom for us. Killjoy that I am, I wouldn’t let my kids have them. First off, I didn’t know what was in them. Second, I knew those pops didn’t turn green by accident. They contained food dyes, something we try to avoid in my house. So we left them there when we went home on Friday night. And that’s how the hang-up thing started.

Sunday my mom called me, asking when I was going to pick up the gifts we had left behind. (My Hybrid Escape has a small trunk, and the back seat is filled with two huge car seats.) “And are you really not going to let the girls have their nice chocolate pops,” she wanted to know. I felt the anger rising. Here we go again, I thought.

My mother is an organics naysayer. She doesn’t get why I make “such a fuss” over everything being organic. Her usual retort when I race in to keep her from giving them something outrageously bad: “You ate this stuff for years and you turned out okay.” Sigh. She is so bad that she will lie right to my face when it comes to food. “Mom, is there any meat in this sauce?” No, she’ll tell me even as I see the chunks of pork swimming in the gravy. (Italian for tomato sauce.) As many times as I explain that I don’t want my kids eating conventional meat or dairy, she will poo-poo what I say. And when I outright ban lollipops made in China or cute plastic cups from the dollar store that are probably dripping with BPA? She calls me the food Nazi, and accuses me of trying to give my kids an eating disorder. It’s very frustrating and disheartening.

She’s right about one thing: We did eat and drink plenty of stuff that my kids can’t eat today. But there is a big difference. Many of the additives and chemicals in our foods today didn’t exist when I was a child. You didn’t find high fructose corn syrup in cereal or ketchup when I was little. You didn’t have BPA in plastic baby bottles or vegetable bags. Heck, I think I had glass baby bottles, and I can clearly remember that all our veggies were either fresh from the produce section or came in those little cardboard boxes wrapped with wax paper.

But I digress. Back to hanging up on my mom. Again, it was wrong, and I was childish. However, it just drives me mad to have to not only defend my parenting skills, but also have someone who doesn’t read the studies I do telling me that what I am saying is wrong. Sorry, Mom, I’ve got science on my side for these things. Still, my mom isn’t getting any younger. I am going to try really hard not to hang up on her anymore. And I am going to make an effort to be patient and kind. But I’ll be damned if I am going to let my kids eat possibly tainted lollipops or meatballs made with conventional beef that probably came from ten different sources. I’m the mom, and in this case I am doing what I think is right. Mom, you had your chance. It’s my turn now.

6 Responses to “My Mother, the Organic Doubter (Or why I Hung Up on My Mother)”

  1. MarthaandMe says:

    Good for you! There is something about that generation that just doesn’t get what we’re so concerned about. My mom does understand my concerns to an extent (especially after I explained that we have 2 family members with a serious autoimmune disease and the links) but she still doesn’t quite get it. She complained to me that organic baby carrots go bad so much faster than conventional. Umm, yeah, it’s b/c they’re not filled with nasty chemicals! I think you’re doing the right thing and all of us need to hang up on our moms now and then!

  2. Jen Haupt says:

    Karen, this is both funny and poignant. Very well said! Happy New Year – Jen

  3. sheri says:

    Bravo! I am sure she hated when her mother butted into her parenting as well.
    You are so right about what products and food contained when we were young versus what is allowed now. Everything was safer 30 years ago, including the air we breathe. Maybe you should rent some movies for your mom, like Food, Inc and Toxic Baby and she will start to understand. Send her some articles like the one I read and posted about that talk about what the antibiotics in our meat are doing. Maybe she will read them and at least try to understand where you are coming from.
    You are doing the right thing by being vigilant!

  4. Shari G says:

    I think it is hard to change someone after so many years. I know I can’t change mine! Good for you for sticking to your guns… but I didn’t have any doubt.

  5. Amy says:

    I was talking to my M-I-L the other day and almost, almost hung up on her….. I was talking to her about how I only use organic products on my kids skin….. shampoo, soap, creams for rashes and such. (I refuse to use anything that I even think contains the word paraben!) She said I had to be careful because if my kids have an allergy they could have a reaction (NO DUH!!) I have a child with a mild peanut allergy, I make sure the products I use are peanut free. If they are using plant based products, then chances are they will not be allergic to the plants because they will build up a natural immunity. Also I got the line about how her kids used most of that stuff….. Well, my husband has asthma, his brother– had thyroid cancer!!! I understand that it is generational, they never really had a choice, but now that we do I think we have to say NO to all the bad stuff that is out there!!!

    Thanks for you blog!! Have a Happy New Year!

  6. Suzanne says:

    I like the information and agree with all the reasons why you are making the choices you do (I make them to). However, in our house is where we control options and when the grandparents look after the kids I let freedom rein. You will never be able to control all situations, like when the kids are at school, friends houses etc so we control the majority and try to instill good ideas and ideals so they will choose to pick good options.

    But I will never get the image out of my head of my cousin (more like my children’s age than mine) licking the inside of a yogurt container for over 10 minutes desperate to extract every last molecule of flavoured yogurt. No exageration. There isn’t the ban of plastics in her house but there is a ban on all sugars, sweets/sweetners candy or anything remotely unhealthy. It’s a sad image that I can’t erase from memory!

    So this is our compromise-grandparents can do as they like withing reason (return them in the same or similar frame of mind/behaviour you would want them delivered in). They are happy, kids happy, and what we don’t know about doesn’t make us unhappy!

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