And it's a tad ranty.
Most of you know my buddy Ann. You are probably aware that she is a vegan (mostly raw), home schools her kids, gives birth at home, uses cloth diapers, champions proper car seats for children, cleans her house with vinegar and baking soda, and nurses well past one year. But most of you probably don't realize that less than 10 years ago she was the opposite of all of it. She gave birth in hospitals with episiotomies and epidurals. She was overweight and ate the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). She used disposable diapers, nursed less than a year, and had every intention of sending her kids to public school.
What changed? What made her (and her husband, Brent) make different decisions?
Mostly, I'm assuming, it was based on experience. They joined Weight Watchers, lost tons of weight, and starting learning about nutrition. The hospital experiences for her were borderline hellacious, and she started looking for better options. Little by little, book by book, experience after experience, they made their choices. They chose what they wanted to do, and they did it with the research and education in their hands.
Does this mean that their choices are the only correct ones out there? Of course not! But what they did, they did with knowledge and experience.
Making choices that most of society doesn't agree with is hard. I imagine that every one of us has made a choice an acquaintance or family member felt was down-right stupid. In the way we dress, raise our kids, treat our spouse, decorate our house, educate ourselves, spend our time, etc. --each is a personal choice, but each is also criticized either publicly (or silently) by those around us. It doesn't matter what the choices are; somebody is going to find something wrong with it.
We judge each other so easily, and lately I've had to stop and ask, "why?" Why are we so ready to jump in and criticize? I'm assuming it's based on three things:
Let's start with the first one. When I mention to people that I'm looking into having my next baby at home with a midwife, the initial reaction is explosive. Ex. Plo. Sive. Everyone has a story to share about how someone died because they weren't at the hospital (never mind the statistics of how many babies die BECAUSE they were in a hospital). To their credit, they are genuinely scared for me. They assume I'm choosing a birthing experience over the safety of my child (you know, the one that doesn't even exist yet because I'm not even pregnant). They are fearful. Usually because they love me.
Now, the second one: Guilt.
When I mention to people that I'm trying to eat a vegan-raw diet, the backlash is more explosive than the birthing thing. I've never seen so many snide remarks about how "crazy" I am. They laugh, they scorn, they think it's impossible. And that's fine. If they think it's crazy or impossible, it's fine. But why do they react this way? Why do they care what I eat? I'm not asking these people to eat like me (at least not anymore). If I mention something awesome I read about nutrition and found an answer to a prayer about it, they act as if I've thrown out all of their food and forced them to eat a plate of kale. But you know what? I used to be the same way. I reacted in the same way towards those "crazy vegans." And part of (obviously not all of it) is because of guilt. We all know we need to eat better. ALL OF US. We know this. And so when we see someone doing it, we tend to lash out because secretly, we wish it was us. This probably isn't true of everyone, but definitely most.
Both of these examples fit perfectly in the third reason: Ignorance.
I told you that Ann and her hubby researched like crazy before making the decisions they've made. Me too, dear reader. Me, too. I've been reading things on nutrition for years. And years. My weight struggle has made me sift through all of the information overload on health to find some semblance of truth. I've also researched and experienced the pros and cons of where to give birth to a child, too. I started with the doctors in the hospitals with the epidurals and episiotomies. I've moved on to the midwives and giving birth unmedicated (which I've done four times now). I'm ready for the next step, I believe. I'm not, not, not going into these things blindly, regardless of what other may think.
When someone comments about an issue they know nothing about in order to criticize somebody's carefully thought-out decision, not only is it obnoxious, it's hurtful. Let me say that again: When someone comments about an issue they know nothing about in order to criticize somebody's carefully thought-out decision, not only is it obnoxious, it's hurtful. What people need when they make tough and life-altering decisions is support, not back-handed comments. We all need love and encouragement, not lectures on how "hippy" we've become.
I respect people who make informed decisions. If it's a different decision than mine? That's okay, too. I mean, I send my kids to public school and I use disposable diapers. Ann doesn't find that offensive. For years when Brandon and I would go out with Ann and Brent; they would have their tofu, we would have our steak. They were never offended; neither were we.
My point, dear reader, is that we all make hard choices every day. It's a process --a continual cycle of learning and changing, learning and changing. Instead of looking for reasons to criticize, let's try to encourage each other and learn from each other --ask yourself, "why is she making this choice?" and read up on something new. Support and love.
Seriously. It's not that hard.