In my life both as a child growing up and as an adult wife/mother, the theme of health has always been front and center. My own dear mom was always a bit health obsessed, filling the little bodies of her 5 daughters with natural, organic food before it was “in”, and forgoing most over-the-counter medicines for herbs, homeopathy, essential oils and vitamins. Our school lunches got me made fun of for the whole grain bread sandwiches with sprouts hanging off the edges, and I remember the middle school sleepover where my friends teased me for not having real soda in the house, only spritzers made of carbonated fruit juice. Cereal containing sugar was our occasional dessert, and rice crispy treats were made with brown rice cereal, peanut butter, and honey. You get the jist. (Love you Mom!)
Fast forward to my married life with a husband who owns a personal training gym. A place where day in and out he’s surrounded by the world of fitness, strength training and nutrition plans. You can imagine that our household is full of bits and pieces of that knowledge, reminding me that walking is really only considered “active rest” and the importance of really staying hydrated. Considering the fact that Hugo already knows how to do squats with perfect form, I can’t imagine Andy’s knowledge of fitness will be leaving our walls anytime soon.
And then there’s me. The Baker Chick. The buttercream obsessed, salted caramel loving, pie-shop hopeful who adores piping perfect frosting and making a gorgeous lattice crust. I adore creating confections a little more than I love eating them, but not much. Most of my life, (especially lately for some reason,) I have a sweet tooth that just can’t be contained. It doesn’t help that I’m churning out desserts left and right, how do you say no to sugar when it’s your part time job? So where does this leave me? How do I set an example for a healthy life for my little one when I’m not totally sure how to balance it all myself?
From the moment I discovered I was pregnant all I wanted was to be healthy for my baby. I’m sure it’s the thought that most women have when they get the happy news- what to do first? Get a good vitamin! Start eating well! Don’t forget those superfoods! Cut out those 2 cups of coffee and don’t forget your calcium! From the very start we are flooded with all sorts of literature and opinions about how to grow, birth, and raise a healthy child. It’s what we want above all things isn’t it? Regardless of your background or opinions on the many things that divide us as mothers I feel certain that deep down, most of us just want a healthy, nourished child who grows up to be a healthy and happy adult. This is what I hope for above all things. Why then does it seem so hard to know what is right? How, in those tough motherhood moments do we decide what is truly best for our little ones?
Well, I for one know I’m bound to have some trial and error. No matter how many books I read, theories I google or frantic phone calls I make to my mom, there is never really an answer to these things. No doctor, or mother or other “expert” can tell us 100% of what we think we need to hear. Is this where that instinct that is so widely talked about kicks in? Where we have to shed everything we heard or think we know and just act from the gut. I think it is. I think we do.
I could write out a detailed outline for how I plan to raise healthy children, what I will and won’t let them eat, what activity level I hope they have, when they’ll get to start watching tv, and how much. I could make declarations on which natural remedies I’ll try to use instead of giving motrin or other over the counter drugs, and many other “wills” and “won’ts” that I’m bound to have to make decisions on at some point or another.
But I’m not going to.
If I’ve realized one thing as a mother it’s that no matter what I think I will or won’t do- I never really can tell until the moment is upon me. Every single decision has come from deep in my gut, just knowing what’s right for me, my family, my child. I here and now am putting it out there that I will read all the books, do research and become as educated of a mother as I can, but at the end of the day listen to my gut and not look back.
And for now, I’m happy with this: baby laughs that can be heard a mile away. Joyful footsteps of a little boy running in the grass. A boy who loves the feeling of earth on his toes, waving at the trees, passersby, and dogs. Holding his strawberry with both hands as he gnaws, and smashes it, and makes the kind of mess that leaves me equal parts amused and exasperated. Today I’m so grateful that even though I still never really know if my choices are the right ones, I’m learning to be confident in them. I’m learning to practice moderation both for my own health and also as an example for my family. Today I will take a deep breath and know that I can always get better, eat better, drink more water and less coffee, while remembering that the body I have has done quite a bit in the last couple years, (growing, birthing, feeding a baby…. plus running a half marathon last week!) Listening to my gut has worked pretty well for me so far. Here’s to hoping I can take the influences from my childhood, my every day, and everything else I know or hope to know, and mix them into a delicious, effective, healthy-child-inducing-concoction. I’ll let you know how that goes. ;)