I remember being at a launch party for Moms Clean Air Force over a decade ago. At the time, I was busy writing about all things environmental health—in books and articles as well as helping organizations and businesses with their sustainability content. I was wowed. Soon after, I started writing for Moms from time to time. From afar, I had a sense that the organization’s planned advocacy work was growing and expanding. I was always impressed, grateful to be included in my small way.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work more closely with Moms as an editorial consultant and I jumped. My first week, I joined a Zoom staff call and was wowed in a new way. Moms was big! Much bigger than I thought. I tried to count the friendly faces in the online squares. There were over 40 women on the call from all over the country—mostly mothers, as far as I could tell—and all badass.
I listened intently as they updated their colleagues on the work they had done recently or were planning: helping set up electric school buses in Ohio, organizing a well-attended Climate Advocacy Day rally outside a state house in Montana, providing testimony to inform EPA why we need stronger soot standards to protect the air our children breathe. I was on this weekly Zoom when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine and we reacted. I was on this weekly Zoom after a number of us celebrated Earth Day with Vice President Kamala Harris. I was on this weekly Zoom when President Biden declared a new Office of Environmental Justice. Federal agencies are now mandated to structure their policies through the prism of how toxic pollution and the climate crisis impact communities of color.
I’m someone who struggles with climate anxiety. My own children have told me my fears about their future make them sad. This didn’t feel great, and I am working on it. I know climate hope is a practice, a verb, an active process. This weekly Zoom, this front row seat to a room of caring parents actively working on the climate crisis, is exactly what I needed. Week after week, I am uplifted knowing how closely government agencies are looking to Moms’ work and passion. It’s not that the fight of the week isn’t overwhelming: tailpipe pollution, mercury standards, a new report from EPA on impacts of climate change on children’s health. It’s not pretty. But being surrounded by people working relentlessly to move the needle on protecting all our kids is therapeutic. I just didn’t realize how much emotional support an active climate community can provide.
This Mother’s Day, I’d like to share similar support with any parents grappling with uncomfortable feelings about the climate crisis: Moms are getting the work done! I’d curse in that last sentence, but it’s not on brand. And I want to be on brand. Moms is now a network of over a million and a half moms and dads united against air pollution and committed to fighting for climate safety to protect our children’s health. It was a lot smaller, though no less mighty, over a decade ago.
What has happened since? Awareness and acceptance that climate change is real, sure. Extreme weather events, including floods and wildfires, have forced a lot of people to come to terms with this global crisis and what it means for their family’s future. And also there’s clearly a special proprietary sauce that Moms Director and Co-Founder Dominique Browning manufactures.
I know Mother’s Day is a commercial holiday, but I’ll take it. I’ll sleep in, get extra hugs with handmade cards, and a vase full of blooms cut from my own yard. I’m all too aware that a few extremely warm days earlier this spring means my lilac tree has bloomed already—two weeks early. It’s usually right on time for Mother’s Day. I mentally chart wacky weather; I can’t help myself. But this year, when the climate floats into my mind and fills my veins with ice as I look at my kids and feel apologetic, I will feel a little less so because I am working with a relentless army of Moms. They buoy me—and I hope they hold you up too. Happy Mother’s Day.