Dear Owen and Vivian,
When you read this, you’ll be a GROWN UP. In your 4-year-old minds adulthood must seem like an eternity away, but let me just tell you: I SWEAR that yesterday was the day you joined Daddy and I on the “outside,” so trust me when I say, time and its passage are mysterious things.
When you were born, we lived in Hoboken, just across the river from New York City. You were born on a cold, sunny, January day, and because of your winter arrival, I spent A LOT of time inside after you were born. It was a bit claustrophobic, but I couldn’t handle much more when you arrived.
By now, you may know, your mama has a bit of an issue with over-Googling. That caused a few problems when you were just here (ask Daddy about the time he deleted the WebMD app off my phone. HILARIOUS.), but one thing that it also caused, when I was stuck inside on those winter days, was a level of awareness about climate change that I had never had. Believe me, the news was NOT GOOD. It was the source of bad mastitis fever dreams, chasing the precious hour or 2 of sleep I was getting at that point, the lack of sleep making me even more anxious, and it made me feel like I was stuck in a place that was seeing more and more extreme weather with two tiny people, unable to leave if the target on NYC’s back that seemed to be getting bigger and bigger was FINALLY at the center of something cataclysmic. We had already lived through Hurricane Irene when I was pregnant, and we were unable to get home from Australia because of Hurricane Sandy. When we did, the basement of our building was TRASHED…we were so LUCKY it was only the basement…
There were a lot of reasons we moved to Illinois, but I’d be lying if I omitted the fear of the effects of climate on our East Coast home. Sea level rise, superstorms, and the idea of running for the proverbial hills with two little babies was just not appealing. When we moved, we had everything we’d ever wanted, but it took time to meet people, and again with the Googling! One day, when you were napping, I stumbled on something in a successful google…I forget what I put…”take action climate change,” or something like that. I landed on the website for Moms Clean Air Force and signed a bunch of petitions and immediately felt like I was DOING something instead of just sitting at home and worrying. I started to get emails that I read voraciously, and I was invited to advocate for your (and my) future. That’s when I started doing something that I’m REALLY good at: showing up.
I remember lying in bed one night, listening to a really wicked thunderstorm outside, and letting my imagination run away with me about the weather, and I actually opened my eyes and sat up in bed and I smiled. I smiled because I knew, that no matter the unknowable outcome for the future: whether we’re knee deep in brilliant technology that has, yet again, saved us, or we’re knee deep in flood waters and vector-borne diseases and a world that is truly on its last legs, I have literally done every single thing I could do protect you. I have done more than most, and all I can. I have done something that every mother hopes she can look back on and say with accuracy, and I CAN SAY THAT. I have shown up for YOUR life, and I have shown up for mine. I will continue to do it until I’m at the end of my journey, and after that, I will hope that ALLLLLL of the work my colleagues, partners, and friends have done will have made a difference. Here’s the biggest secret: I KNOW it will have. We may not realize how, but we have changed the world. Keep up the good fight. Call me once in a while and visit me and Daddy in the old folks’ home. I love you, my veggies, you smell like my feet.