Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mommy Wars - in Bulk

Photo credit:

Yesterday evening, I decided to make a last minute stop at Bulk Barn before going home.

If you don't know what Bulk Barn is, it's exactly what it sounds like, minus the barn part. There is no farm structure involved whatsoever. That's just crafty marketing alliteration. "Bulk Barn" flows off the tongue as if it's meant to go together, just like "Marvelous Maven" or "Amazing Amanda." "Bulk Store" didn't sound nearly as good, and "Bulk Outlet" made people want to call a crisis hotline, so they stuck to "barn."

I went in with one goal in mind: buy Peanut M&Ms. There were several reasons for this, most of them excuses to eat a large quantity of sugar and artificial colours, so I won't get into that. I'll just throw some keywords in here: moving, moving, stress, boxes, moving, sadness, excitement, moving. Take that, Google.

There were two women around my age at the cash. One had yoga pants and the other a ponytail. That's about all I remember about them because I was too busy staring at my empty calories.  They were having a conversation about toothpaste. Except, it wasn't really about toothpaste. It went sort of like this: 

Yoga Pants: Have you tried that new brand of natural toothpaste for the kids?

Ponytail: No. We've stopped using toothpaste completely.

Yoga Pants: What are they brushing with right now?

Please don't say 'nothing'.

Ponytail: Nothing. 

Yoga Pants: Nothing?

She just said 'nothing.' Just keep staring at your M&Ms.

Ponytail: Nope. Just water. Toothpaste contains collagen that coats the teeth, and then the teeth never touch the food and then they don't learn how to properly chew without it.

Huh? But... uh... that doesn't make any...

Yoga Pants: I read that too. My kids just use baking soda.

Ponytail: Yeah, but baking soda scratches the enamel right off their teeth.

Oh, shit. I know what this is. I know where this is going.

They're having a crunch-off.

Yoga Pants: Is that beef jerky organic?

Ponytail: I don't know, I...

Stop smiling Mave. Stop it right now. Smiles turn to laughter and laughter turns to awkwardness when you forgot your phone in the car and you can't pretend you're reading a funny text instead of remembering when you used to have crunch-offs with other moms.

Yoga Pants: You should try these lentil snacks. No GMOs.

Ponytail: Oh, yeah? Do they have eggs, though?

Yoga Pants: No. Totally kid-friendly. No eggs, no dairy, no seeds, no nuts.

No flavour... 

Shut up, brain! Quick: focus on something you don't enjoy thinking about, like Stephen Harper. 

Ponytail: What about shellfish?


Now, before anybody gets their hemp panties in a bunch, let me just state that I'm all about a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet. Well, other than when I buy bulk chocolate that was potentially farmed by children in a field ripe with lost hopes and desperation. But definitely all the other times.

And I get that people have allergies.

And I also get that people have discussions.

But I'll be damned if I didn't detect some of that mommy competition I've taken part of on many occasions. It's not always about food or toothpaste. Sometimes it's about educational choices, extracurricular activities, vacations, carseat brands, discipline methods. There's a fine line between discussion and comparison. Discussion opens up new ways of thinking. Comparison breeds insecurity in a job that is already coated in a thick layer of judgment.

These two were obviously friends or family, and that was confirmed when they climbed into an SUV together with their earth-saving beef jerky and drove away. I don't think either of them was wounded by the crunch-off. But it reminded me of all the times I've left a conversation feeling either vanquished or victorious, my choices either wrong or right, worse or better. Many, many times, sometimes leaving me wondering if I should have done this parenting thing at all.

Thankfully, I've stopped caring so much what other people think, which is going to be great for me in a new part of town with new neighbours and new schools and new parents to chat with. I don't want to have to prove anything to you, New People. I don't care if I shop at the grocery store and you serve 100% organic, free-range cows that listen to classical music while in their mothers womb. I don't care if your kid plays hockey and mine plays Minecraft. I don't care if you care that my kids get to drink juice most days (sugar-free, of course, but not freshly-pressed in our juicer so as to contain the maximum amount of nutrition before it dies off in the pasteurization process and gets packaged in carcinogen-leeching plastic. See? I read things too.)

I'm just glad I got all this figured out and am incredibly confident in my parenting abilities these days.

Must run. I need to go make sure my children's toothpaste doesn't have any collagen in it. BECAUSE HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO LEARN TO EAT?!