Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fifty Shades of Clean

Guest Post By Lynn Shattuck, a writer and mother of two. 

I am a dirty, dirty girl.

No, really. Even as a child, I left cyclones of dolls and blankets in my wake. My cluttery
ways still seem to be inherent, part of my energy field. Electrical cords tangle in my very
presence. My clothes bustle together in little hills throughout our home. Small scraps of
paper scurry around, burrowing themselves into my pockets and the nooks and crannies
of my car. My messiness seems to be as much a part of me as my freakishly long and
flexible toes; not pretty, a little embarrassing, but perhaps an homage to the beautifully
imperfect nature of being alive and human.


I have two little people who rely on me. My children trust me to ensure that they are
fed and clothed. That they have safe places to play. That their clothes and bodies are
reasonably clean. And yet by the very nature of them being here, they add even more
chaos to my already slovenly ways. Particularly my three-and-a-half year old, who has
yet to meet a surface that he can’t turn into a drum set, and who leaves trails of cereal
bars behind him, as if to help himself find his way between the kitchen and the couch.

And so, I find myself squarely middle-aged, and craving order. In the past, I might’ve
fantasized upon catching a flash of well-defined shoulders. Or hearing a song with just
the right thump of bass, or when my husband took a few days off from shaving. Now,
I just want our damned wooden floors in the living room to be devoid of crumbs, small
pieces of fruit, and those brooding grey-faced trains that seem hell-bent on tripping me.
I want to peel my clothes off, very slowly, and… put them in the closet. And color code
them. I want to catch my husband’s eye on the rare moment when the kids are both
napping, put my hand into his warm palm… and slip him the broom.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sometimes It Feels Like An UpHill Battle... does. I'm not just talking about life, raising two stable children, while simultaneously managing two start up companies with a full time student husband and a house renovation. I am speaking to the role of chemicals in all of our daily lives. There is something about living "naturally" that puts us on the fringe.
       This week I was asked to provide my daughters pre-school with a doctors note addressing why I am insisting that I provide my own sunscreen for when Dahlia goes outdoors with her class. Not only do they make it unreasonably mandatory for each child to have sunscreen applied daily, even in the dead of winter to exposed skin, but they wanted to use a generic brand sun screen. This basic and inexpensive brand of sun screen has over two known carcinogens in the ingredients list, not to mention petroleum and nano products. Yuck.  I know that I am lucky that I am aware, educated, and economically able to be in tune with such issues vs. the question of where our next meal will come from. However, the issue of pervasive chemicals in our environments and my children's exposure is one that I won't ignore. It will not be brushed under the rug for the ease of sunscreen application in a pre-school class room.

       I find that my need to be constantly vigilant against the "normal" products, foods, and other cosmetics, such as the antibacterial soaps used in schools and all public bathrooms is exhausting. I can't even buy a reasonably safe detangler for my toddlers curls in the grocery store. It requires an extra trip into Portland at a ridiculously high priced food market. Of which, just the parking lot gets my stomach in knots.
      To make matters even worse, I have to deal with all the people that roll their eyes and say things like, "well, everything causes cancer and is going to kill us, so why bother??". Or my other favorite is when people remark that I will get my arm entirely tattooed, but won't use bleach. I politely reply (standing next to my companies sign) that there is 100% more regulation regarding the ingredients in tattoo ink, then their favorite brand of Tide and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning products.
        Lets wrap up this post on a slightly less agitated and more positive note...Advocacy is all we have to keep our homes, children, and pets safe from the completely unregulated chemical industry. Lets vote with our purchases. Lets research and be aware. Lets not be complacent. Lets use amazing resources such as to check into the safety of our household and cosmetic products. And finally, lets not be intimidated by large corporations or "know-it-all" personalities who want to keep us on the fringe. I became a mother knowing that my only job is to keep my children I wont be backing down anytime soon...