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Twyla Neely-Streit
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To my potential children,

I’m eighteen right now. I’m irresponsible and argumentative and not the person who might someday create you just yet; but I’m getting there. I’m finishing my first year at college and as I’m sure I will have told you, it is quite a time in a person’s life. If you had asked me even a few months ago what my goals were, I would have laughed. Now I have a legitimate answer to that question—or the beginnings of one. I’m an environmental science major and as of now I am very certain that I will remain on this path. Who knows, maybe by the time you read this I’ll be a bonafide adult! An engineer or a scientist, an architect or an advocate? Who could say? But I hope it will be something that has made you proud, and I hope that it will be something that has made the Earth proud. There are no opinions I care about more.

I’ll be honest, honey, it could all turn out that way, but as for now I don’t have high hopes for the future. Currently Trump is president, sea levels are rising, and so are temperatures. There is little positivity, little compassion, little understanding. This is a time in which climate change equates guilt, anger, conflict, politics; things that as your mother I wish you never had to encounter, though I know you will. Because I can imagine a future in which these things continue and you are reading this letter from under your smog mask or inside your oxygenated apartment on the 50th floor in a super-city. A future in which people remain scared and no one takes responsibility. But these thoughts make me feel gross inside and this letter is not meant to be about fear or darkness. Because here I am, in my present, trying my best to take some responsibility. So maybe things will be better some day!

I can also picture you reading this under the shade of a birch tree at Honeyrock or in my childhood home. Breathing in clean air, touching plants, loving a dog just like I do. I will choose to hope for the second. I chose to hope that we will be there together! That young, lazy people like myself will get our acts together and become the innovators that the world needs. Wish me lucky honey. I will see you in a month for my grandson’s graduation. I am so proud of all of you, and love you with my entire being.

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