Odd title from an exuberant mom, but gloomy is the right word to describe the feeling hovering over my summer. As I look out on gray clouds, I recall some of the thoughts and comments that have come my way in the past weeks – reflecting feelings of uncertainty, concern and downright panic.
I thought perhaps it was a getting-older-mom kind of thing. My children don't need me to take them to the pool and story hour is long gone. But talking with a new mom recently she asked, "Did you worry so much about the sun when your kids were little? What did you do about plastics?” Since I've been a mom, the war on terror was launched, mercury has polluted our waterways, the terms “drug-resistant illnesses” and “child-headed households” have been added to our vocabulary, and global warming is recognized as the greatest threat facing our children and grandchildren. Daily news announces that beetle blight is devastating pine forests and alarming numbers of jellyfish indicate severe Mother Earth illness.
Hello. That's a seriously gloomy cloud and it's socially inappropriate to talk about it!
Luckily, the antidote for despair is action. We don't have to keep living our lives as if we’re helpless. Yesterday I read about a mother in Great Britain whose family is giving up plastics for a month. The UN Environment Programme estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean on Earth. That’s insane. Next family meeting I’m pitching this idea, and I imagine my boys will not only be willing, but excited to take on this challenge.
Al Gore’s most recent speech calling for 100% reduction in CO2 within 10 years has people changing their driving habits, carpooling and unplugging (literally). These are easy shifts that we all can make, and we’ll be called to make bigger shifts soon. Don’t despair; these shifts will mean less time behind the wheel of a car or computer screen and more time with family and neighbors. Perhaps growing food together in our neighborhoods, having candlelight dinners, protecting our waterways, and respecting our global neighbors’ resources. The U.S. might even become the largest exporter of solar panels and windmills, instead of conventional weapons...
As I look out on the sky now, the gloomy clouds have evaporated and I feel a sense of wonder on what today can bring.