Soap Box : Going Against The Grain

Look at those cheeksTo look at us, we look like your average family. But when people spend time around us or observe us in daily life they begin to see that we go against the grain in a lot of ways. Over 7 and a half years of marriage we have lived and learned. Our current lifestyle looks completely different than it did when we were newlyweds. Daniel and I are passionate about learning and seeking out information on new and better ways of doing things. We are constantly challenging the norm, and a lot of our conversations revolve around things we have read or seen, and whether or not we want to introduce them into our lifestyle.

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with the conventional way things are done. That being said, it surprises me how little people look into why they do what they do, and/or whether there are gaps in their knowledge. This only really bothers me though when, after doing research and making decisions we feel comfortable with, people still look at us like we are crazy.

I can’t count the comments we’ve gotten about natural birth, baby wearing, eating organic, eliminating most grains from our diet, cloth diapering, wood burning, vaccinations, chiropractic, alternative medicine, and especially baby led weaning. No one has better intentions for our little boy than Daniel and I. We would never do anything to jeopardize his safety or well being. We want the best of the best for him, that’s the whole point. It’s not fun to get “the look”, to be told “you are doing what?”, or to be treated like we believe everyone who takes the conventional route is beneath us. That is not how we feel at all!

Daniel has told me that he would be perfectly happy if no one ever knew these “against the grain” things that we do, and I share the sentiment. Some of our goals in life are to keep our family healthy, and be conscientious about consumption of resources and food. That does not mean we feel the need to convert everyone to our ways. On the contrary, we are a little family who prefers to stay below the radar. Like Daniel has told me before (he is so much better with words than I am), “We don’t like to rock the boat. Unfortunately things we choose to do tend to rock the boat.”

Daniel and I have discussed so many times how exhausting it is to feel like we constantly have to justify ourselves, because we really shouldn’t have to. We try to be patient and put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Maybe the people around us get defensive, or maybe they are concerned because they don’t know something we do. Who knows. Nothing in this area is worth making people feel inadequate or hurting feelings, so we try to pick our battles. What matters is that at the end of the day, our little family of three is happy and thriving greatly because of the lifestyle decisions we have made.

The question I have been asking myself is whether we should live our lives openly, or keep everything quiet? While I love conversation, I hate put downs. And I’ve wished I’d kept my mouth shut one too many times. Explaining why Daniel and I do certain things requires time and open ears – which are not always offered. In these kinds of situations I’m not very good at explaining things on the spot. I get the nervous jitters and wish I could just direct them to the source instead.

I don’t know that there is a global answer to my self-reflective question of whether I should be open, or keep things to myself. I’m sure there are going to be more good and bad experiences with all of this. But if life so far is a testament to what God is doing in my little family, hopefully I will become more discerning to decide when and where I should explain myself in ways that are helpful and constructive to others. I’m a work in progress!

If you are in the same boat as Daniel and I please share. You are not alone!

To those of you who inspire and encourage us (you know who you are), a blanket thank you!

Here’s to learning and living and taking care of ourselves and our families!

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9 thoughts on “Soap Box : Going Against The Grain

  1. Amy, There’s a certain group that I believed coined the bean dipping phrase. I wonder if I know you from there.

    Finding what works for your family takes research, confidence and prayer. The wonderful part about getting into the second year is that it starts to get a lot more comfortable. Now that we’ve learned a lot more about Ryan’s needs and are meeting them- the fire doesn’t feel as hot. We’re beginning to see the fruit of our labor and things that tell us that our hard work in doing things differently is paying off.

    Gentle parenting, clean eating, herbal-ism learning and alternative medicine-seeking makes for some interesting conversations. We’re getting better about not feeling the need to defend our choices.

    Always enjoy your writing, you’ll treasure these as time goes on.

  2. Elina – I love your blog and feel like I can keep in touch with what’s going on with you guys even when I may not see you or get to talk to you at length for what seems like a long time even if its only a couple of weeks. I don’t typically comment, just enjoy. But here’s my two cents — mostly because I hope you never get discouraged with writing, sharing and following your hearts when it comes to your choices.
    I wish I’d had blogs to read when I was raising young children. Things you talk about were things I wouldn’t have even thought to think about much less try and practice in life. I admire your family for making choices that will benefit you all but most imporantly that precious Gideon. Keep blogging about them! You will touch someone or share something someone needed and didn’t even know it. For those naysayers and “look-givers”, one thing I learned along time ago was to stop putting some much weight on what others thought UNLESS they meant the world to me – because those are the people that will only speak up or against something when it is truly important. Similar to something someone said earlier but so true! Easier said than done!
    You are a great mom and you and Daniel make a great team. Love you all,
    Cathy

    • Cathy, your comment means the world to me, as you are a mother I look up to. Your boys (all three, I’m counting Jim as one of your boys) are such great people, and really speak to what a wonderful wife and mother you are. Your words of advice are so appreciated, and thank you for reminding me of the importance of considering the input of the people who matter most. You are one of those people! Thanks for the words of encouragement, and for cheering Daniel and I on as we figure out this parenthood thing. Love you!!

  3. I think I’ve commented in your blog before but mostly I just lurk from the fb links 🙂 this post caught my heart, though, because our family has gone through much the same process. What worked the best for me/us and our relationships was to not explain our decisions if we weren’t confident talking about them with critical people. We didn’t hide them, necessarily, but we practiced the art of “bean dipping” when topics would come up, “Yes, she’s still nursing at night! How long did your little one nurse?” or “We’re on a delayed vaccination schedule. So tell me about your trip!” People with whom we have relationships and we know would engage in respectful dialogue earn our trust to receive explanations. People who we aren’t as confident around get an overview.

    With that being said, I have felt *much* more confident talking about our choices with our second child and have engaged in more in depth conversations with people who would have only garnered bean dip before.

    • Amy, I loved your concept of “bean dipping”! I read your comment to my husband, and he thought it was genius. Thank you so much for the simple, but very effective, advice. We will put it to good use.

  4. I came across your blog in my Facebook news feed this and being gluten-free and mostly Paleo, was curious by your title. You have totally spoken to my heart here! Our little family is so similar and we struggle with what you call “the look.” We get it over our diet, beliefs about natural birth, co-sleeping and peaceful parenting. As a writer, I often consider writing about these things because I see God working in our lives THROUGH these areas…after all, it takes faith to live this way. I have deleted so many blog posts though for fear of angering/upsetting friends. It is a tough call! Anyway, thanks for sharing your heart. I totally relate.

    Also, please tell Daniel I said “hi!” We were good friends in high school.

    • Amanda, I’m so glad you happened to stumble across a blog that resounded with you. Daniel says you are pretty much his only friend from Oak Hills, and you totally sound like someone we would LOVE to hang out with. What you said about “I see God working in our lives THROUGH these areas…after all, it takes faith to live this way” really spoke to me. You got to the heart of what I have such a hard time putting into words. Thank you for that!

      Your blog? Yeah, it’s pretty much gorgeous!! I subscribed the second I saw it. You have amazing talent! Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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