Recently I was with a girlfriend and she asked me about when I was going to go back to work. “I’m writing,” was my half whisper.
“What?” she asked.
“I’m writing. I’m writing about environmental issues and green parenting,” I gushed. “I never really told anyone, because I was afraid to fail and have my friends see it, but I am a writer.” I sat up a little straighter and taller, proud of having let my secret out.
“What qualifies you to write about environmental issues?” she challenged me. I want to tell you about my witty reply but, alas, there was none. I just sank and stammered something about my degree in the sciences and my post graduate work, but to be fair, none of it sounded very impressive even to me.
I could blather on about the enormity of motherhood. I could tell you that my favorite potter once whispered to me, “Children make adults out of children.” I’d be tempted to prattle on about the power women feel when they breastfeed or the way the world seems suddenly large and frightening when your babies are small.
I was raised in the 70’s in a very green home. No one called our way of life green and my parents weren’t quite hippies but, in that decade, in our neighborhood, excess consumption was vulgar. We learned from our parents and from our neighbors that the Earth belonged to us and we were duty bound to care for it. No one taught us this in a class or on a special day, there was just a constant conversation. The home is always a classroom.
I wasn’t an altruistic child and I won’t insult you by attempting to portray myself as one now. I wanted stuff like anyone else. Above all, I wanted two things: I wanted squishy white bread that came from a package and new clothes.
The pre-packaged, highly processed, white bread never came to my childhood home, and when I went away to school I did buy some for myself. It tasted remarkably similar to what I imagine the plastic bag might have tasted like. The bread was yet another failed rebellion. The clothing was another matter and my mother managed to keep me in “new clothes” more than most. You see every time a patch went onto my jeans, I felt like they were new.
As a mother I never had to go green. You know how your grandmother insists that he old shoes and purses will be back in style one day? Stop rolling your eyes; I’m like your granny’s old bag. You see, conservation never went out of style in my house, the world just needed to catch up.