This piece was cross-posted at Marcia G. Yerman.
As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s impossible not to reflect upon the passage of time. Every year, I look backward as well as forward. I think about my mother — who is no longer with me, and I think about my son — who is the future. Without the physical presence of my mother, I am forced to face the reality that I am now “the older generation.” It’s mind-boggling. I just started looking at colleges with my son, and I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t the one applying.
On those long days, when he was a baby, his junior year in high school was hard to visualize. I remember how obsessed I was with making my son’s life safe and healthy. I understand that when he goes out into the world, he will be making his own choices. Hopefully, he will take into account most of what I have taught him.
However, the job is far from done. Every day there are new concerns. Reports about the air and water, and other potential hazards in our environment, are prevalent. These matters are fundamental, even if the stories fall off the radar because our attention is being pulled in a million different directions — from global instability to political rhetoric.
We can’t look away, no matter how disquieting or overwhelming. And yes, it does feel like a barrage. I just took the American Lung Association “State of the Air” survey. It wasn’t good news. New York City got ranked #21 in “year-round particle pollution.” By putting in my zip code, I got all the specifics. Yet, every time I read the newspaper or go online, I see how the Clean Air Act is under fire.
This week I found out that my son’s favorite summer fruit, strawberries, might be contaminated with Methyl iodide — if they are harvested by the $2 billion California strawberry industry. This potent pesticide is an endocrine disruptor. As far back as 2007, a group of top scientists wrote a letter to the EPA outlining their concerns. It’s also been shown that pregnant mothers exposed to agricultural pesticides give birth to children with lower IQ’s.
My son is interested in political science. He gets the larger picture…but our younger generation can’t do the work alone. My pledge to him, and to all the other children on Mother’s Day, is that I will be pro-active on bringing awareness to these issues.
It’s what I taught him…the power of the individual to affect change.
Painting Courtesy of Marcia G. Yerman