I recently heard the idea that becoming a parent is an act of hope. We all hope that our children can grow up happy, healthy and educated, and we hope that they will be safe. But hope is not passive, hope leads us to take action to help our aspirations come true.
Mother’s Day always causes me to reflect on my job as a parent, how the journey is going and what we are doing as a family to help our kids have a healthy and happy future. Bringing a child into the world is a huge responsibility and a life-changing event. When I became a parent to my two children aged six and four, I found my priorities changed dramatically and my protective instincts kicked in hard.
The emotional rollercoaster ride started with my first child; in particular when our newborn daughter wasn’t gaining weight. I spent hours buying baby bottles and researching the correct formula and how to increase milk supply. I benefited from conversations from La Leche League and going to breastfeeding clinics, and most importantly, sharing the journey with another mom in a similar situation. We got through it with help from a community of other parents.
As my kids grow, I’ve had many more parenting challenges thrown at me and I’ve often found that the support of a community has been key to getting through them. Yet, no challenge has been as great as my fear of the impacts of climate change.
Climate change is a very real and very urgent threat to our well-being, now and in the future. We can no longer assume our kids will grow up with the same access to food, shelter, clean air and water that we have taken for granted in many parts of Canada. It’s a terrifying thought that seems overwhelming. When I first started to understand the magnitude of the climate crisis, my protective instincts kicked in again and told me I had to do something.
I initially started with recycling, composting and reducing my carbon footprint, but the scale of the climate crisis compelled me to move beyond, to look at more systemic levels of change. That shift wasn’t easy — it was a completely different approach than what I had ever done, but then again, so was becoming a parent.
Once more, I did my research and found a community of parents who could help. I connected with the For Our Kids network and set up a chapter here in Ottawa. For me, working with other parents was crucial because it was understood that we were moms and dads first.
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It was fine if virtual meetings were interrupted by our kiddos or if we talked while preparing a meal. Actions were designed to be family-friendly and simple so they could be completed in between other parental responsibilities, like naptime, meals and paid work.
The simple but meaningful actions we’ve taken have gradually begun to yield fruit. In Ottawa, our team has successfully lobbied the municipal government to better finance its climate action plan. We brought forth an amendment to city bylaws to promote more biodiversity over turf grass, and we are working on transitioning our diesel school buses to electric.
So when I make space for some reflection time this Mother’s Day, I’ll also be thinking about these climate wins as part of my role as a parent.
It is comforting to know you are not alone in the journey of motherhood or climate action. It’s something we can all do to know that we stood up when it mattered, and — as our kids get older — we act as role models.
Most importantly, once you start doing something about climate change, you can see that change is possible and your feelings of hope become more conceivable.
It is easy to think that you don’t have a voice, but just like when your toddler is approaching your cat with scissors or your kids are struggling at school — when your kids need you, you can speak up.
As a parent, we are the most important people in our children’s lives, their greatest protector, and right now, they need our help to protect their future.
Marianne Ariganello is a mother, scientist and organizer with For Our Kids Ottawa-Gatineau, a group of parents and guardians working together to help families advocate for climate justice and a better future for all generations. For Our Kids is a network of parent-led groups across Canada working for climate justice.
You should also realize that
You should also realize that the whole "carbon footprint" idea is greenwashing 101 and although providing solidarity for you and being a good thing to teach your children generally, it isn't the responsible thing to do when it comes to climate change; political awareness is. Because governments are the only ones powerful enough to effect necessary change all you need to know is that the anti-science, dishonest conservatives (now called "cons" for a reason) are the enemy of us all.
They have also very much cultivated the current deterioration of political discourse, starting with Stephen Harper, are truly nasty people in the Trump Republican style.