Only Slightly Crunchy…or How Do I Measure Up To My Mom?

January 28, 2008 at 9:44 pm 33 comments


My mom, June Smith, with her camera.

crunchy-granola (crunch·y-gra·no·la): adjective, slang.  People who embrace such practices as eating whole, organic foods, home gardening, wearing only natural fabrics, lean to the left, practice yoga, make their own yogurt, spin yarn from the wool from their farm, (SHEA), whilst eschewing the pressures to conform to society’s standards of beauty and, as a general rule, tend to wear Birkenstocks, and drink Chai or green tea. 

I am good-naturedly and gently poking fun at this way of life because that’s how I grew up.  I was born in the summer of love (a result of free love, no less…another story…) and my parents, well mostly my mom, were raising me in a way that most people my age weren’t.   My mom made everything and taught me what she was doing while she did it.  We picked berries and made jam from it, she learned to tool leather and made sandals for me.  We never ate out.  My mom had an “ecology NOW!” bumper sticker on her  ’63 volvo.  She was an artist and photographer.  We only vacationed by camping in the Sierras.  And while she didn’t wear patchouli oil for perfume, she was constantly announcing what to, or what not to believe in.  “Question authority!”  “Subvert the dominant paradigm!!”  She went to women’s empowerment groups. 

I went to a pre-school co-op where we made our own tofu and drank coconut milk.  Then, as time marched on and I came of age in the 80’s.  I embraced cosmetics and hair products (we still said products back then…not product) I saved all my babysitting money so that I could buy Esprit clothes from the outlet in San Francisco.  But, I drove my mom’s old volvo, bumper sticker and all.  I only kinda sorta looked the part. 

So as I have evolved and got growed up, I kind of dip into both worlds of polished outside, crunchy inside.  I like to decorate my house but I’m also really into organic gardening and other crunchy pursuits. 

When it came time for me to be a mom, I was planning on heading back to my mom’s way. I had it all figured out.  I would have an unmedicated birth, nurse perfectly for 2 years, use only cloth diapers, make my own strained, organic baby food, and sew Zannie’s clothes myself.  We would never eat at McDonald’s or buy frozen, prepared foods.   We would never watch tv, or buy Disney princess movies that showed women that they were rather useless until they found their princes.  I was only going to buy wood toys and Waldorf dolls from The Magic Cabin catalog and not one single thing that even remotely resembled a video game. 

I fully admit and state for the record right here and right now that I’ve broken every single one of those rules.  You know why?  Because real life gets in the way.  Zannie was in fetal distress and I had a c-section.  Nursing was difficult and once established I ‘only’ nursed for her 16 months.  Cloth diapers and me were not a match made in heaven and I found that there were great organic baby foods ready for the buying at most any grocery store I went to.  I have yet to sew a dress, and the freezer is fully stocked.  Suzannah fell in love with Elmo at the age of two like he was a rock star.  She has fully embraced the color pink as a lifestyle, not just as a color and adores all Disney princesses.  It hurts my inner hippy, it really does.  But I’ve totally given in come to terms with all of it.   I have softened as I’ve grown up and older and I’m glad for it.  So now, oftentimes while I’m cooking quinoa and local vegetables from the farmer’s market, Zannie is watching Mulan for the 150th time and I’m thinking, “Wow…that Mulan, she really kicks the huns’ ass.” 

I was going to try and be a perfect mom.  I was going to be like my mom in the ways that I had loved.  But, I got over myself one McNugget at a time.  So, while in my last post I found out that I’m a Phat mom, I’d like to think that under all that phat is a groovy mother hen whose heart is tye-dyed. 

I know that my mom would be proud of me and the kind of parent I am if she were still alive.  I keep her alive through lots of the things I teach my girls.  Zannie, at the age of 4 had planted an organic herb garden with me and had put in the red wiggler worms in herself.  She eats spinach and tomatoes straight out of the earth.  She colors outside the line and that is celebrated.  I see that fighting spirit in her that is a result of the example my mom set. I really wish she were still alive to enjoy her granddaughters and to teach them the things that I’m forgetting or too tired or lazy to do.  It would be wonderful to have the three generations of women all together. 

Here’s to you mom.  I do my best to continue on with the things you taught me.  Mostly you taught me that usually the hard way produces the best results.  Don’t waste time.  Always have a project and keep your brain busy.  Read good books and teach yourself how to do stuff.  Don’t read the directions.  I’m trying mom.  Without you here, it’s not as fun, but I’m doing my best.  And I’ve come to accept that my best is good enough.  My girls are proof.


Entry filed under: Adoption, breastfeeding, Children, cooking, Daughters, Family, foodie, Isabel, Motherhood, Parenting, Zannie.

Does this make me look Phat? Happy Hearts, Isabel & The Supermodel

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sandra Hanks Benoiton  |  January 29, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Lovely post, Tina.

    Your mom looks VERY familiar to me. Since it sounds like she and I were born around the same time (I had my first child in 1969), and both lived in the Bay Area, and both drove a ’63 Volvo (mine was a station wagon) for a while, I’m wondering if we didn’t come across each other at some time. It is a smaller world than we often realize.

    She made you sandals? Wow. That’s impressive, even back in those days!

    I’m sure she is so proud of you.

  • 2. imtina  |  January 29, 2008 at 5:57 am

    It’s entirely possible Sandra. She was involved in so many things that you may have been buying your sprout growers at the same time!

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I guess I should have included her website, showcasing some of her work at:

  • 3. Jackie  |  January 29, 2008 at 6:16 am

    I loved this post, Tina!! You’re a wonderful & cool mom 😉 Your mom knows!!

  • 4. Andrea  |  January 29, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Loved reading that. I, too, was raised by hippie parents, even after the 60’s when it wasn’t cool anymore 🙂 I often think I’m a hippie on the inside, but a total prepster on the outside!

  • 5. imhelendt  |  January 29, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Awww T. THat brought tears to my eyes. I wish your mom was here too.

    I’m a recovering hippy. Don’t have time to make their clothes anymore and I haven’t made lotion and lip balm in years. Although 5 years in the mountains over there stays with you forever. 😉

    Oh and I totally loved the Espirit outlet too in the 80’s I got these awesome tie dye overalls one time……

  • 6. imtina  |  January 29, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Jackie – Thank you. I really hope I’m all that you say.

    Andrea – that reminds me of someone saying to me “You’re not a sorority girl? But you have that whole Martha Stewart thing going on…” I laughed so hard!!! So, I share your outer preppie!

    Helen – Thank you. I know you’re in recovery, but you still embrace your inner crunch. I know it. Oh man, I miss the Esprit outlet soooo much. I used to buy samples for $5 from these huge bins. Sigh…

  • 7. justenjoyhim  |  January 29, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    What a beautiful tribute, Tina. I’m sure that your mom really would be proud of you. 😀

  • 8. Suzanne  |  January 29, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Oh boy, I’m all tears. I could really feel you there in that last paragraph, especially. I wish your mom were still here for you and the girls. I really do. I have similar feelings about my aunt, also an earthy-crunchy, organic gardening, artist, who just passed away last summer. I had pictured her being a big part of my child’s life, teaching her a lot of the same things your mother taught you. It must be a Santa Cruz thing. I just wish my daughter could know her, you know? I wish she could know what it’s like to run into her arms and be held and kissed by her, to feel my aunt’s radiant smile beam down on her, to join her in some act of mischief.

    I believe the people that we’ve loved and lost live on through us. But I’d really prefer it if they could have lived on WITH us for longer.


  • 9. imtina  |  January 29, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Judy and Suzanne, thank you.

    I’m sorry Suzanne that your daughter will miss out on your aunt too. I know you’ll do what I have learned to do and it will bring you so much joy to pass on those things from your aunt. Life is really unpredictable and unfair in these things.

  • 10. Shea  |  January 30, 2008 at 9:07 am

    2 things. I’m only partly crunchy 🙂 and I love the color pink too 🙂

    I think it’s about balance. I do a lot of things that the casual observer thinks is so totally granola. But then in the granola circles, I’m the hypocrite (I love Martha Stewart and I don’t wear organic clothes among other things). For a long time I tried to be that mythical perfect parent and I just couldn’t do it. I felt like I was denying parts of my own personality. I love technology, so while I like the idea of the whole Waldorf thing, it doesn’t totally fit our lives. Sophie would die if we made her give up the computer! Yet most of the kids’ Christmas came from Magic Cabin… it’s like we’re a contradiction, but we acknowledge it and move on and are happier for it.
    I kind of like the confusion it creates at the organic grocery when I pile all my organic goods into the back of my Land Rover 🙂 Keeps people on their toes 🙂

    I do wish you could’ve experienced 3 generations together. That is one of the things that I cherish about all of us living together. I see how M effects the kids everyday and how she shapes their world and adds that little bit of M to their mindset.

  • 11. Organic Foods  |  January 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    […] Only Slightly Crunchy…or How Do I Measure Up To My Mom? […]

  • 12. Tasha  |  January 30, 2008 at 11:40 am

    What a lovely, lovely post!

    I absolutely love your sentence ‘I got over that one McNugget at a time” as it best describes our generation of what’s the norm.

    As long as your children know that you love them, you can bet your last penny that your mom is incredibly proud of you!

  • 13. imtina  |  January 30, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Shea – slightly crunchy unite!

    Tahsa – thank you so much! Maybe I need my own pictures of Ronald McDonald on my blog….hmmm…

  • 14. mamagigi  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Beautiful post, Tina. Beautiful. The last graf has me blinking away tears so I can type. I believe she’s with you and probably bursting with pride, watching you balance motherhood with all the parts of you — many of which, clearly, came right from her.

    Oh, yeah. She’s with you and your girls.

  • 15. imtina  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Thank you so much. It’s very comforting to hear those words.


  • 16. reunionwritings  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I wish I’d had a mum like that, she sounds really cool.

  • 17. imtina  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    She was really cool in so many ways. I really miss her.

  • 18. ourwildride  |  February 8, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Great post. I love the polished outside and crunchy inside. I once marched into work in a nice outfit and was sitting at my desk before I noticed there was chicken poo on my shoe.

    I’m so sorry you mother is none longer physically present for you. But she is still with you.

    And Mulan rocks!

  • 19. kendra  |  February 13, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I’m enjoying reading your blog! We’re adopting from Kyrg.! If you ever need bows for your little girls, please look me up! It’s my way of adding a little to our adoption fund. We’ve raised $10,000 (not by bows!) and have $30,000 more to go!

  • 20. reunionwritings  |  February 13, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I don’t understand why it would cost $40,000 to adopt a child. If a child was relinquished for adoption purely because the family was poor it disturbs me that someone makes money from this.

    A fraction of that money could save a mother from losing her baby.

  • 21. imtina  |  February 13, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    My Dear Kim,

    You have indeed asked the Big Question and it’s a fair and good question and I’ll do my best to answer it. I’ll just state that my opinions are based on what I have learned from talking to people from Kyrgyzstan, and on my own experiences while going through the process of adopting Isabel.

    I’ll start out by saying that that figure is including air fare for two trips, paying for legal fees, and for social workers to write reports. Getting documents certified in a specific way is extremely costly. But, I do want to point out, that a significant chunk of the money goes directly to the orphanage. In Kyrgyzstan, and in other countries, about 75% of the children in these orphanages are there due to poverty and are NOT available for adoption because their mothers cannot afford to raise them, but do not want to relinquish. Thank goodness that there is this option. While this separation is horrible for everyone involved, I’m so glad that our money went to the orphanage so that these children can be fed and given the little that they do get because it means that they can live there until hopefully the mothers get back on their feet and can bring the children home. It does happen, though not often.

    In a perfect world, there would be no adoption and women wouldn’t have to face these impossible situations. I won’t even use the word ‘choices’ because in the case of the culture from which Isabel comes (and I mean no disrespect to the people of central Asia) is a very different world from ours.
    All over the world, the calendar says 2008, but in a third world, muslim, post-soviet era part of the world, it is simply unacceptable to be an unmarried mother. She may be subject to violence or homelessness at the hands of her family for the rest of her life. These are the children who make up the rest of the babies and children in the orphanages. Their mothers, for their own reasons, no doubt with great heartbreak, had to relinquish and walk away giving no information or false information. So, even if given all that money, she probably still couldn’t keep her baby for what she might lose. It could be her own safety, or some other dire consequence.

    We don’t live in a perfect world at all. I feel that I do my part to help change these things, small as these changes may be. I support the Act of Kindness people who give supplies and money to the orphanages which does end up contributing to family preservation, as I mentioned above.

    So, there it is as I understand it. I wish more than anything that Isabel and children wouldn’t be separated from their families and mothers and cultures. But I fully believe that if a mother has gone down that road, and relinquished her child and the choice for that child is to be adopted or grow up in an institution, then I choose adoption with no qualms. I have to ultimately make peace with the fact that Isabel’s mother was one of those women who did what she did for her own private reasons and that she was doing the best she could. There are going to be some adoptions that cannot be prevented even if the money was there.

    I hope this ‘helps’ some Kim. It’s awful, isn’t it? I feel so, so sad that Isabel may never know her mother in Kyrgyzstan. I will let Isabel decide if she wants to try to find her and I will take her to Kyrgyzstan regardless of what she decides. I hope and wish every day that her mother knows peace and is not tormented with her decision. I hope she is safe and loved. I hope that somehow she knows her daughter is loved and nurtured. I hope that somehow she knows that we only feel nothing but great respect toward her, as I do you Kim. I’m so sorry that you were talked into adoption. It’s the choice being taken away that’s inhumane and wrong. I regret all of it.


  • 22. reunionwritings  |  February 14, 2008 at 1:56 am

    It was awful for me, I can’t deny that, so that’s why my heart always goes out to the mothers far away.

    I’m not having a problem with your adoption or anyone’s where the reasons make sense to me, it’s the poverty issue that always upsets me.

    Thank you for taking the time to explain, you’re such a good soul.

  • 23. April  |  February 18, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Another crunchy adoptive mama here! You and I share so many of the same ideas and opinions. Are you sure you are not me? Do we know each other?

    I have a question for you about Kyrgyzstan if you have a minute to e-mail me back. I would really appreciate it.

    Beautiful posts by the way. Not only this one, but all of them.

  • 24. Maria  |  February 19, 2008 at 9:01 am

    This is the most beautiful tribute to a mom I believe I have ever read. You have embraced all the good things your mom taught you but were smart enough to make your own traditions with your own children. I know your mom is so proud of the woman and mother you have become. You are so REAL and a true inspiration to other “less than perfect” moms in the world. I recognize myself in so many of the statements you made (nursing, diapers, movies, toys, food — oh darn, all of it!).

  • 25. erinthebeekeeper  |  February 20, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Oh how I identify with some of what you are saying. I was NEVER going to take my daughter to McDonalds. Television would only be half an hour a day, and ONLY after she turned two. We would read eclectic books, and classics, and discuss politics with our six months old. I was going to walk with her everyday, and never raise my voice.

    And of course we were going to be 100% organic.

    I had a McGriddle for breakfast today, and she had the apple dippers and a deep trans fat fried hash brown.

    huh. t things change

  • 26. roni  |  February 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

    I so wanna be like her. It’s hard though, with McDonalds being right on the way to soccer practice!
    I always say I’m going to retire to the middle of no where and live off the land. (I’ve got alot of learning to do!)

  • 27. Valeire  |  February 26, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Hi. Just found your blog through your post on FRUA (I am Swingomatic there.) I wanted to invite you to join a Yahoo group that I am a member of. Something tells me that you are the kind of person that would love it.

    It’s called “realadoptiveparents”. You can find it by going to and doing a search. It’s a group for liberal, tolerant adoptive parents that love to talk about politics, books, film, eco-topics, etc. Check it out!

  • 28. haze  |  February 26, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I loved reading about her. As for you as a mother, I think you’re doing a great job and yes, this is a very different time from the 60s and 70s. You do what you can with what you’ve got and you pick your battles – Elmo isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, is he? And the fact that your daughter eats homegrown tomatoes is wonderful. Your mom must be very proud of you.

  • 29. haze  |  February 26, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I loved reading about her. As for you as a mother, I think you’re doing a great job and yes, this is a very different time from the 60s and 70s. You do what you can with what you’ve got and you pick your battles – Elmo isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, is he? And the fact that your daughter eats homegrown tomatoes is wonderful. Your mom must be very proud of you.

  • 30. Margie  |  March 7, 2008 at 6:53 am

    Tina, so sorry for my late comments – this is beautiful! Your mother was a really neat person, I can tell clearly from this.

    You’re in my thoughts – Kim pointed me to the recent posts about mothers, and I applaud your courage in standing up!! You’re the best!

  • 31. Mandy  |  March 25, 2008 at 4:25 am

    After my mother passed away I struggled to keep up her amazing parenting techniques. I’ve pared them down and stick to the ones I can manage with 3 daughters. You’re right, it’s not as much fun without her, but hopefully it’s just as much fun for my daughters as it was for me growing up. Any traditions we keep are a blessing to our families!

  • 32. Anna  |  May 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    LOVE this post. first time visitor to the blog. love your mom, she sounds so familiar. im a waldorfy child myself raising half waldorfy children 🙂

  • 33. Primal  |  June 1, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Wonderful post!


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