>Veguary Guest Blogger – *Jody* – THE VEGGIE MOMSTER
>Last week I wrote about my relationship with vegetarianism and being a mom. Today, I present a different point of view, from a guest blogger friend of mine. Jody and I met via Live Journal, where I had my previous blog for years, and she has been helpful towards me as a veteran (lesbian), vegetarian mom. I hope we can get our girls together one day to meet. So here goes:
|Jody and her girls, Mya and Sylvia.|
The Veggie Momster…
When Dana asked me to be a guest blogger for Veguary, in terms of being a vegetarian mom raising vegetarian kids, I thought to myself: “Self, what do you have to say on the matter?” And my answer to myself was a quite unenthusiastic, “not too much”. But the question lingered for a few days and I realized that it’s really been an amazing food adventure for the first 5 years of motherhood.
When I got pregnant, I had been vegetarian for about 5 years. And by vegetarian, I really mean pescatarian (you know, the occasional non-farm raised fish). I told myself, like every good granola crunchy pregnant woman should, that I would give in to my body’s cravings because my body knew best. Unfortunately, my cravings did not know best. The first fall off the veggie-hauling wagon was an order-in meal of teriyaki chicken wings. Followed by the worst, um, “digestive episodes” ever. The second was for a McDonald’s hamburger. Nothing crazy, just the hamburger. Apparently someone force-fed that cow some crazy steroids because I was a mean raging *itch for a day or two afterwards. I learned my lesson well enough that I didn’t make it to strike three.
Fast forward a few months to birth. I gave birth to two beautiful identical twin girls and I was as happy as could be. Until I realized they weren’t getting any nutrition from my nursing attempts. I went through a few weeks of doctor appointments, lactation consultations and crying until I finally accepted the fact that due to a hormonal imbalance, I was only producing milk from one breast, and not even enough to feed one baby, let alone two. I continued to nurse, but ended up supplementing with formula. The first push in regards to what my children ate was due to this nursing problem. From day two, the nurses pushed me to supplement with high calorie formula “until my milk came in”. Then, because the girls weren’t gaining quickly enough for the nurses’ liking, they became more adamant in their demand for the high calorie formula. Being a first time mom, I gave in and figured they knew best.
Things went well for about a year. I made most of my own baby food by processing different fruits and veggies and combinations of the two by hand. They were doing well and growing like little weeds. They were still tiny little babes, but were continuing on their own healthy path.
When the girls were a year old, we moved from Georgia to my home state of Connecticut, in order for my then partner – now wife – to have legal rights to our daughters. Unfortunately, this brought back a bunch of bad habits. My father, a meat and potatoes – conservative – Roman Catholic – Italian, began with the questioning. You don’t give them meat? How are they going to get protein? You’re depriving them! You’ll make them crazy. Ah, how I loved the judgments… *sigh*. By the time we ended up moving even closer to my parents’ house, the girls were basically eating anything they wanted as long as it didn’t have meat or gelatin. It wasn’t the meat part that made things difficult. It was the gelatin. Gelatin is found in some places that most people wouldn’t expect.
My dad loves to pour the junk food down their throats and candy and donuts are, to this day, his favorite way to show affection. And, what kid can resist the fun of gummy bears and jelly beans? So, from the ignorance of trying really hard to make my kids love him, he has fed my children animal bones.
I can’t lay all the blame on dear old Dad. And in his defense, he was trying and has turned his views around on my “different” family, so I do have to give him the benefit of the good ole’ college try. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t good enough. However, a licensed day care provider should probably be more astute.
We started the girls in out of home day care when they were 2 years old. For the first year we had an amazing director who showered our girls with too much love (is there even such a thing?) and was wonderful about using cloth diapers and making sure things were purely vegetarian. Then, after a year, she sold the day care. The new owner decided to let go the previous staff and restaff with her own family members. It wasn’t looking too good. Not a month into the switch, the girls came home talking of these lovely goodies they got to try called “fruit snacks”. What?!?!? First of all, I am in charge of what my children eat. I sent them with plenty of food and a specific written letter saying they were not to have gelatin. I checked with the owner and found that indeed the brand had gelatin in it. Ok, the first time was an honest mistake. The 5th and 6th times made us switch day cares. She obviously wasn’t listening to my concerns. And while a little gelatin will not kill my daughters, I felt completely disrespected.
Ever since then, I’ve been extra cautious when talking with the teachers and explaining that gelatin can pop up in unexpected places. I now ask for teachers to call me when they are planning to have food outside of what I send. The girls are in Kindergarten and have a full understanding that they don’t eat meat. Nor do they want to. However, they don’t have an understanding of things like “chicken broth” or “bacon bits”. So I can’t be 100% sure that when they go to school and have the grilled cheese hot lunch that they aren’t getting the vegetable soup. I mean, vegetable soup doesn’t have meat in it, right? Wrong. Beef broth. I encourage them to ask the server if they aren’t sure they can have something, but I usually just make their lunches or tell them exactly what to choose when they are in line. I guess part of the “letting go” process of letting them grow up is to trust that they listen to me in the morning and can make sense of it.
As they get older, I’m sure they’ll have a better understanding of the actual meat products. And I’m sure they’ll become little spokespeople for PETA (they already show signs of strong convictions). They often berate their other mom for being a carnivore. In fact, they amuse us by occasionally asking, “Mommy, is that meat?” “Yes.” “Is it BEAR?!” “No.” “It’s mean to eat animals.”
People will continue to tell me what they think is “right” and “wrong”. People will be ignorant and disrespectful. All I can do is do what I do best, and that’s to love my children the best way I know how, to raise my children the best way I know how and for now, I’m doing my best. I just hope my best is good enough.
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