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Thursday, December 2, 2010

We're Not Perfect


Guest Post by Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., CHEC, Actress, Celebrity Spokesmama and Member of Holistic Moms

I don't think I have ever been more flattered to be grouped with another celebrity as in your blog; Mayim Bialik and Gisele in the same sentence!? Wow.

I respect Gisele tremendously for her courageous statements about global health and breastfeeding (the evolutionary and natural way to feed and nourish human babies). However, I don't think I should be grouped with her. First of all, she is much wealthier than I am, I promise, so she may get help with her "perfect" parenting that I do not have the luxury of: nannies, babysitters, housekeepers: you get my point. Second, she is much more famous than I am, but I think my publicist will dig us being associated thus. And third, I am certain she never has days where she looks as crappy as I do, she's just too darn pretty!

Humor aside, the fact that I believe in every woman's right to an empowering natural birth, encourage and practice extended nursing on demand with no social life in sight for the next few years, choose to make baby shampoo and granola and live a holistic lifestyle, and serve as my children's primary caregiver does not make me an example of someone wanting to be "perfect." It just makes me me. Just ask the thousands and thousands of not famous parents who do these same things to save money, eliminate toxins from their children's bodies and environments, and most of all feel empowered that they know best what their children need; not doctors, books and magazines that sell trends, products, and the lifestyle of being a "cool" mom. (By the way, when did it stop being cool to just be a mom - and why do we need all these gadgets and name brands to make us cool? That's a whole other story, I suppose; I digress...).

I am the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, a brave and wonderful fellowship of parents who do not seek perfection, but rather do the best that we can do for our children based on our own personal standards, morals, intuition and scientifically-supported beliefs. After being told by conventional doctors, media, and well-meaning friends and family what was "right" for my baby, I was thrilled to find an organization that supports my needs and my lifestyle without the elitism that I often find in advertiser-driven "children's" magazines which try to sell us hundreds of products we are told we need to be "hip" and current. I don't have the kind of money to live the life I see in those magazines, and I choose a simple life not because it's perfect or makes me perfect, but because it works for me and my family. Period.

I am far from perfect and I am the first one to say it. I lose my temper sometimes, I am very hard on myself, I have unrealistic expectations of my kids and my husband and myself and my bathrooms are never as clean as they should be. Dishes are almost always in the sink, clothes are all over the floor, and I don't get close to enough "me" time to satisfy any therapist's designation of nurturing myself. I don't know anyone living a perfect life, but I know many people living honest and thoughtful lives. This is not the life of wealthy celebrities. I have many non-wealthy non-celebrity friends who, like me, make their own cleaning products, shun popular medical advice, and choose to go without a lot of things in the name of pursuing the life they desire. People make trade-offs every day: do I buy the fancy dress for myself or save the money for a few dinners out with the kids? Do I buy a car I love or a car that will serve my family's needs best? Do I save up money for vacation in the Bahamas or a camping trip in the mountains leaving money leftover for a few months of groceries?

I am not trying to be perfect. I am a skeptical mom on a budget whose life is not very busy with social appointments, free time, or the use of a nanny or babysitter by choice. I dislike prestige, name brands, and being overcharged for products that I can make myself in no time. Do I always buy organic? No. Am I trying to be a martyr by not sleeping for more than 3 hours for the past 5 years because I don't believe in night weaning my kids? No. Do I think I am better than you for my choices? No. Everyone does what works for them. But please do not confuse parents who shun popular culture, popular media, and popular trends with parents who want to show everyone up. In addition, it is kind of bad form to condemn "celebrities" for being honest and public about our choices simply because they are not what's considered culturally convenient or acceptable; I talk to women every day who say that they had never heard of a celebrity supporting homebirth, naturopathy, or nursing a 2 1/2 year old, and I am thrilled if I can represent the wonderful variety of parenting that our free country allows. You don't have to agree with me, but don't be snarky and accuse me of being self-righteous when I am really just trying to raise my kids to the best of my ability, cameras on me or not.

For point of reference, making your own shampoo costs about a third of what you buy in the store and it takes 3 minutes to mix. My granola is made from oats, nuts, vanilla, brown sugar and maple syrup. I am happy to share the recipes with anyone interested (see below).

The next time you see a picture of me or Gisele on the red carpet, picture me instead on my hands and knees scrubbing my crummy bathtub with only a cracked open box of generic brand baking soda as my cleaning product, clutching an old rag, shouting to my kids, "Be right there! Stop tormenting your brother, Miles! Fred, come to Mama but not too close, the bathroom stinks!" As for Gisele, you can picture her the same exact way if you want to, but picture her looking 1,000 times less "normal" than I do. And let's all try and be happy for her about that.


Recipes From Mayim (Thanks for Asking!):

Shampoo
Put 1 cup water in a spray bottle.
Add: 3/4 cup any liquid castile soap (like plain Dr. Bronner's castile soap)
Add: 2 tsp any carrier oil (almond, jojoba, olive)
Add: 10 drops of any essential oil you want: (I like lavender and tea tree oil, but try orange or whatever you want)

Mix and enjoy! This is CONCENTRATED so one or two sprays is plenty for short baby hair. For shoulder length, I use 4-5 sprays. This is NOT a "no-tears" recipe so watch little eyes.

Granola
Combine all of this is a bowl and mix it up:
3 cups uncooked oats
1 1/2 cups of any combination of chopped nuts (we like cashews, almonds, and walnuts)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup (or agave if you prefer that)

I like to go crazy (!) and add 1/2 cup ground flax seeds and 1/2 cup wheat germ, but you can really improvise any way that works for you!)

Bake on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 325 for 35-45 min. stir halfway through to avoid burning the edges, like I tend to (that's maybe just because I have a crummy, old, terrible oven!).

Cool and put in a container mixed with raisins or dried fruit, or nothing. Enjoy!!!

Note: For more healthy recipes, including for personal care products, check out HMN's two cookbooks, Growing Healthy Families and Many Paths, One Journey to Health.

22 comments:

  1. This is great, thanks for writing it! And yes, I DO want that shampoo recipe! I've been looking for a good one!

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  2. I've tried posting 3X...none of them are showing up. I'm hoping they don't all show up later. Apologies if they do.

    Thank you for this article! It rocks.
    Yes, I DO want that shampoo recipe! Thanks!

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  3. Thanks, Kait, we do see your comments here and will check with Mayim to see if we can share her recipes!

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  4. I agree, completely Fantastic, WORD for WORD. I could not have said this any better, this is exactly how I feel. Thank you Mayim.

    You know I always get irritated and it always turns me away, when I see companies or organizations using celebrities (whatever that really is anyway) or "name dropping" to sell their products or garner attention to their organization, cause you know good and well those "celebs" don't "live" it. Especially when you see the product shows and the company plasters pics of celebs holding up their product as if that is a reason to buy or as if they really actually USE the product. I despise seeing those flagrant baby showers thrown for rich celebrities and they are given oodles of products from companies just to get their picture with a celeb in a magazine. I just think, why not give that stuff away to REAL MOMS who can't afford this stuff and won't just toss the stuff aside and go out to some posh boutique and by more unnecessary "stuff".

    Anyway point being, it is so refreshing for once to finally see a REAL MOM as the front of an organization, celeb status aside. You are who you say you are and I really feel that you are just like us!

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  5. Once again, you've said the things I've wanted to be able to relay to my friends and family who don't always agree with the choices I make for raising my child, only more eloquently or tactfully than I could hope to. Bravo for being a good, loving momma!

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  6. that other blog made the case for being immune to the judgment of others by applying judgmental labels - this one is honest and real. thank you for that.

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  7. Fantastic post! It is wonderful to hear from any mom (celebrity or not) who is so true to who she kid without apology.

    Thank you for the recipes, I have been looking for a good shampoo recipe.

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  8. I've always been a fan, and now I'm an even bigger fan! Thanks for a candid, truthful post, Mayim. I have had such a hard time finding support in my parenting decisions (beyond my immediate family) and it makes such a difference to know that there are moms like you, and support systems like HMN, out there.

    It makes me so happy to know that there are dishes in your sink! ;)

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  9. Yes, Mayim is truly a Holistic Mom! She's been a member of our organization since 2006 and only recently joined us as our celebrity spokesmama in 2009. We are honored to have her as a member and as a spokesmama to help share our message!

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  10. I think I love you. :) I love how you are supportive and promote a healthy and natural way of life but don't bash people who live the "conventional" consumer driven lifestyle either. Every mom does what she thinks is best for herself and her family and I commend you on being you and being public about it. It's really nice to see someone who has some of the spotlight that just lives the way that fits them and doesn't try to fit into what everyone thinks is "normal". Thank you for writing this and thanks for the recipes! PS - do you use home-made laundry detergent too? I assume you do. It's one of the best things I've done - no more stinky & toxic chemicals on my families clothes! :)

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  11. Someone recently told me they thought I was trying to be the "perfect" mom. It made me sad. I love what you've said here.

    I write about attachment parenting too.

    http://beanma.com

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  12. I knew my love for "Blossom" would not end in the '90s!

    Good for Mayim! I wish other parents would also recognize that we're not out for any sort of "prize" for how we're parenting. We truly are answering our own convictions of how we want to see our children raised.

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  13. NICE. I've been reading that school blog for a long time and I was actually pretty annoyed to see you put as the model of the modern uptight mama. I've read your Kveller blog and see you talk about momming stuff a couple of times, and it all just makes sense to me (except the vaccine stuff, but that's a raging post-apocalyptic firefight to have at another time and place). :) You're doing the best you know how, as a loving devoted mama, which is all any of us can do. So glad you stood up for yourself here and keep being the fascinating, smart and cool woman and mother and actress that you are. Cheers, ~j

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  14. Dear Holistic Moms Network: I find it FASCINATING that since I posted "This Private School Mom's Unconventional, Hippie, Home-Schooling, Vegan Upbringing" on my private elementary schools blog last night, there has been complete silence from the Holistic Moms Network. Just yesterday, your readers unleashed anonymous comments on my blog with nasty, personal attacks (anonymous, of course). All because I quoted Mayim Bialik using her own words. Are your readers ashamed they attacked me and guest blogger Jenny now that they know I was raised vegan, home-schooled, not treated by doctors? The silence is deafening!

    I don't see the "Blog With Integrity" button on your blog. Do you allow trolls, personal attacks and nastiness? Apparently so. Do you have the integrity to post this comment? I notice you don't allow anonymous comments on YOUR blog. Why not? I'm not afraid to use my name when I post a comment. I'm proud of what I have to stay and I stand behind my statements. Can your readers say the same?

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  15. As you can see, your comments are welcome. The Holistic Moms Network is a community of individuals who seek to parent their kids from a holistic perspective. We have no idea if the people commenting on your blog are members or not - we have no rule of censoring for membership and believe that everyone deserves to have a voice. We honestly do not "control" our members in any way and thus cannot disallow comments on someone else's blog. However, we are not surprised that suggesting that holistic-minded parents are annoying and should not be taken seriously ("Are they all annoying? Of course. Should you take them seriously? Please don’t.") roused some passion from those who follow such a perspective.

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  16. Hmmm. I'm Jenny, the person who actually wrote that post . I never referred to holistic moms as annoying. I never used the word "holistic" at all. I also never talked about celebrity moms once in my post. None of my admittedly acerbic humor was addressed specifically at anyone in particular, but at archetypes of my own invention. If you don't like the gist of Christina's blog, by all means ignore it, but don't unleash a bunch of anonymous nastiness. It displays a stunning lack of integrity and a surplus of cowardice.

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  17. All of this aside, the real problem is that we often see famous people, i.e. Tom Cruise, making simplistic statements about complicated matters. Breast feeding would be best, for sure, but like myself, many women did not have that option due various medical reasons. Also, I am happy that natural childbirth was so easy for these women, unfortunately for me, the length of labor as well as some physical issues would have made it absolute agony for me. I will say the I admire the commitment to their children, but it in no way makes them perfect and it doesn't make another who chooses differently bad.

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  18. One more thing, I'm glad I found this story, which led me to this website! It looks very interesting!

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  19. My only personal issue is the not vaccinating. When you don't you put your children and the children they come in contact with at risk. There are reasons children are still getting vaccinated for mumps and measles.

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  20. Jenny, I believe the issue is not at all with the post you shared with your invented archetypes found in the private school (and public from my own experience!) arena.

    The issue at hand is that Christina chose to preface your post with a title about celebrity moms and pictures of Gisele and Mayim which completely swayed the story away from your intent.

    Christina's choice to use celebs and relate their "perfect parenting" to your post was, imo, a poor choice. The two have nothing in common.

    That said, I feel the pairing of Mayim with Gisele in this context was also a poor choice. If you even just look at the size of their homes you can see they're in different "leagues" (not meaning one is bad or good) but Mayim's one bedroom house isn't quite a comparison to Gisele's mansion!

    On the other hand, I do see the two paired as being very attached to their children, wanting the best for them and making choices for their own kids based on their individual family situation and choices. For that, I admire both and wish others would simply allow them to do their parenting away from judgment.

    Christina, I read your blog post follow up that describes your childhood and I am sorry for the loss of your mother. I get the feeling from reading your story and your final words of how you never buy anything on sale and see nothing wrong with your kids eating as much candy/sugar at Halloween as they'd like that your choices may be a backlash to your childhood. I personally find there is room for balance between the extremes.

    Momofthesouth - I agree 100% with you and love the story of how Mayim has been a member of HMN since 2006 and it was only when the HMN cookbook coordinator recognized her name on a recipe submission in 2007 that it was known that she was a member. The announcement of her spokesmama role wasn't until late 2008 or 2009 and that came about organically from conversations between her and the founder of HMN who is also a PhD with two boys.

    Sheeray2 - I agree that choices made by celeb parents are theirs to make for their families and are in no way a commentary that choices made by others are bad or wrong. One of the things I like most about HMN is that it is founded on the idea that we all make choices for our own families that are unique and best for our own situations and we come together in community at HMN for resources and support in making those choices.

    For anyone who hasn't been to the main HMN website (www.holisticmoms.org) here's a blip from the About Us page that I love:

    The Holistic Moms Network is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization connecting parents who are interested in holistic health and green living. We encourage moms to trust their instincts, parent from the heart, use their innate sense of what is best for their children, live in balance with the Earth, and learn about the pros and cons of all healthcare and parenting options.

    Living healthy and living green is not an endpoint, but an ongoing journey. No matter where you are on your parenting or holistic living journey, you are welcome at HMN! We are a diverse and open-minded community, a place where your choices are respected and where you can learn and become informed! Many of us are new to this journey, others more experienced. Wherever you are, you can benefit from the wisdom, support, and resources that Holistic Moms have to offer!

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  21. I have always been a huge fan of Mayim. Those Blossom hats were a staple in my elementary school wardrobe. Now as an adult I find I am even a bigger fan. To see that she is raising her children much the way I am raising my daughter is astonishing. If people had more role models or spokes woman like Mayim I think more moms would choose the holistic route rather than the "modern cool mom" ways.

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