I thought I could never love anything as much as I loved my newborn first baby, my daughter, a piece of my heart beating outside of my own body.
But then I had another baby, and then another, and each time it amazed me what my heart was capable of. It just kept growing, despite being sleep-deprived, or exercise-deprived, or solitude-deprived. It kept thriving outside my body, in the form of my children, and the inside part of my heart grew too.
Just recently I became amazed, yet again, at my heart, when I realized that I love my tall and gangly daughter even more today than I did on the day when I first held her tiny newborn self in my arms, almost 11 years ago.
The hearts of moms (and dads) are capable of amazing things.
Our hearts are the source of our parenting reserves, our greatest mothering resource, our own personal miracle.
Our hearts are also our real-life Achilles heels. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women (and men). Our own mothers and grandmothers are more likely to die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer, combined.
So it was with a sinking heart that I examined the scientific research linking air pollution with heart disease. I learned that air pollution accounts of tens of thousands of cardiovascular deaths in the US each year. I learned that the greatest contributors are fine particle pollution and ozone. Limiting these pollutants to safe levels is fully within our powers. That’s why we moms need to band together to support the new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, demand strong emissions standards for the oil and gas industry, and encourage investments in renewable energy to break our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.
We also need to connect the dots between climate change and heart health. A warming world will increase heat waves and related cardiovascular problems. A warming world may also increase the very air pollutants that harm our hearts: fine particles and ozone. The National Climate Assessment, a major inter-agency scientific report released this week, affirms that climate change is caused by carbon pollution, and that it is harming our communities and our economies, right now.
Climate change is literally making us heartsick – both because it severely compromises our children’s future, and because it harms our hearts.
Let’s protect that miraculous parenting resource, our font of mother love, our hearts.