I would not be lying if I said I have never
bought a jar of baby food. Because yes, I was one of those moms who made all
of her baby's food, herself. From the moment they were done breast-feeding and
started on solids, I was in my kitchen whipping up all varieties of healthy,
delicious food that was devoid of taste, looked like wallpaper paste and could
(I'm not going to even get into how long I
breast-fed because—whoa—in case
you haven't noticed, that is a big fat hornet's nest. Let's just say it was more
than eight months and less than 14 years.)
I spent hours in my kitchen chopping,
steaming, puréeing, pouring—and then freezing the results in ice cube trays
for individual portions. Their favorite was a concoction I made out of brown
rice, steamed chicken and tofu. (At least I think it was their favorite, but
what were they going to do? Ask for a cheeseburger instead? God made babies
unable to speak for a reason.)
If I was feeling particularly adventurous, I
made tiny sushi rolls that they could pick up with their chubby little
hands and feed themselves. I made baby-friendly versions of stew and "salads" out of diced steamed vegetables that was just as horrible as it sounds. I even
made—for no reason other than the fact that I could—teeny, tiny little meatloaves out of ground turkey and some
leftover purée cubes. Somebody should have stopped me.
I can't tell you exactly why I was intent on
making all of my own baby food, but according to a recent article in TheAtlantic I was part of a trend
they call "DIY Parenting," which covers everything from homeschooling to
unschooling to home-birthing to—in my case—getting crafty with a Cuisinart,
some chicken breasts and a bag of produce. And while the article suggests that
DIY parenting is a way for parents to "express
their individuality," It might have just been a way for me to
feel—no matter how misguided—that I had some sort of control over my world
and my babies' lives.
Once I realized that my crystals, rabbit's foot and magic beans were failing miserably, controlling what went into their stomachs gave me some peace of mind.
Because with all of the uncertainty, the fear
and trepidation that comes with being a parent, aren't we always looking for
something, no matter how small, that we can do to increase the odds of a
favorable outcome? I think that was the case with me; once I realized that my
crystals, rabbit's foot and magic beans were failing miserably, controlling
what went into their stomachs gave me some peace of mind.
And I wasn't alone. I had friends who made
their own baby clothes, knitted their own blankets, and made their own soap and
cleaning supplies. I even knew someone who made all of her own baby books out
of scraps of felt and old T-shirts. Books that only featured sweet stories
about virtuous animals. I didn't keep in touch with her, but something tells me
she would not approve of the Internet at all.
I couldn't tell you if all of my hours spent
making baby food paid off. While my girls have grown into healthy teens and excellent
students, I can't say how much of that was due to my brown rice, chicken and
tofu concoction. I would love to say my homemade purées made them develop an
aversion to processed food, but sometimes there's nothing they love more than a
bag of Cheetos and a Coke.
The only thing I can say is that I was doing
what I felt was best for my babies, and I actually enjoyed that time in the kitchen
making something I knew was nourishing their bodies, and hopefully their souls.
Except for those miniature meatloaves—those were totally unnecessary.