I was recently thinking about Mother’s Day gifts from my sons over the years. Those wonderfully awkward clay sculptures they brought home from grade school; the colored drawings and the poems they write. And when they got a bit older, and had some pocket money, the bits of treasure they found. One son gave me a tiny azalea in a pot. When it finished blooming, I planted it at the side of the garden, to hide it a bit, as it was bright pink, and all the other azaleas were white. Naturally, it grew to be one of the largest shrubs in the garden. And one of my favorites. To this day, the clay raccoons and nests, the handprints cast in sandy plaster, grace my coffee tables.
This morning I thought about turning the tables. What would I give my boys, for Mother’s Day? Of course I once gave them the biggest gift of all. I gave them life. And in the moment of their births, they gave me the biggest gift of all, in making me a mother. Their mother.
So now I want to renew that gift of life. It occurs to me that what is driving my passion for our clean air fight is the thought of my children–and their children–inheriting this home, Earth. Inheriting life-giving air and water. Inheriting what we have built–skyscrapers, ships, schools, hospitals. Inheriting what we create, too–books, art, gardens. Wars. Peace. Inheriting all that is great. And not so great.
We mothers give the gift of life gladly. There is very little that I would take away from the gift that is our home planet. They can generally be categorized as the things that cause suffering. Certainly one of them is the poisons we have added to our air, water, soil and food. Our children don’t need them. Neither do we.
So for Mother’s Day, my wish is to give my children the promise, at least, that I will do whatever I can to clean up the mess my generation has been part of making. I’ll give them the gift of showing them that change is possible. I’ll give them the gift of showing them that love can be a force for political good. If we love this Earth, our home, enough, we can give our children’s children the chance of living in as beautifully splendid a place as the one we inherited from our parents.
Photos: Dominique Browning