We ate the right foods, studied birthing options, became vigilant about safety and consulted Those-Who-Went-Before on everything from poop viscosity to piercings. Now my oldest is studying for the ACT. My middle practices her debate skills ALL. THE. TIME. and my youngest transforms every room into a Ninja warrior arena. I'm sure your children are pursuing adventures of their own. And I see you.
I see you at PTA and recital. I see you shuttling to practice then to Target for poster board while deciding which is less unhealthy: Sonic or McDonald’s as you live a life on the go, accommodating their busy schedules.
I see this in light of what I know about climate catastrophe.
I’ve been blogging about we’re doing to our soil, air, water and other living beings for nearly a decade. I also work in the environmental field with people striving to change corporate culture and public policy. I participate in workshops to increase communal awareness about a future worse than the dystopian novels my oldest is fond of.
And you know what? I’m often the only mom there with kids at home. That’s right. Rarely are there parents with school age children at gatherings focused on the planet’s health.
Where are you?
Of course I know where you are. You are at soccer, tutoring, driving carpool, making dinner or helping with homework. You are attending to your child's present needs to ensure their well-being down the road.
Yet based on all existing evidence--beyond the scope of practices, meets and SATs--that future we’re preparing them for, won’t exist.
It won’t exist because everything on our planet is falling apart. In life’s relay, the earth we’re handing off to them is not the one handed off to us. What we don’t think about—stable weather patterns, breathable air, viable soil, clean and plentiful water, thriving ecosystems—is in severe crisis. The hopes we have for our children are predicated on a planetary stability that is profoundly disintegrating.
I often think we are the swindling tailors in the Emperor’s New Clothes. We weave pure illusion, duping our children regarding the naked facts of their eminent peril. What we're currently doing will not ready them for the reality to come.
Our schools aren’t preparing them.
The enrichment activities we’re frenzied over won’t either.
Ironically, the externalized costs to the planet via fossil fuel expenditure and resources consumed for these activities jeopardize their futures even more.
Are you up at night wondering how to equip our children for this unprecedented reality? I am.
Only this time we cannot consult Those-Who-Went-Before. There isn’t a virtual or actual community sharing tips on how to thrive as a climate refugee, or after your island has been submerged, after the rivers have become toxic or dried up, after FEMA leaves or declines assistance, after the entire forest has been razed or burned. Or when you literally walk thousands of miles away from the only home you’ve ever known because there’s nothing to eat.
You know what else keeps me up at night? Children, just like ours, across the world, suffering because this future is already their present.
Ah but we’ve been here before, remember? When we first found out we were going to be mothers, we peered into a great unknown. At the brink of that unprecedented reality, compelled by love and necessity, we got busy. We prepared.
In fact, we're already past due.