I’m at the park watching the kids burn off energy and dreaming of what could be. I’m thinking about how I would love to bring a refill store to Prince George because one of my biggest barriers to reducing waste is access to products that use less. I always find myself in this trap – I would be a better eco citizen if Prince George had this, I would do this but we don’t have that here… and time to grow up and do it myself, nonetheless tangent.
But while a lack of a refillery in Prince George is just part of the excuses I struggle with daily on being a better environmental citizen. The biggest most daunting excuse of the last three years is the overwhelming expectations of motherhood in the twenty-first century.
Let’s be real, parenting today and parenting three generations ago feature two different sets of expectations.
Waste Guilt is Real
Regardless, I sit here with a bag full of individualized wrapped BEAR PAWS thinking how nice it would be if I could have an unpackaged snack in a nice metal tin for the kids to eat instead of this food pack I grabbed at the grocery store three days ago in the moment of overwhelm and exhaustion. I feel a pang of regret about the fist of wrappers I’m about to toss into the can and what is probably a 200 year life cycle to break down (I don’t know, I guess). And sure, I could feel like a less than awesome mom because of the pre-made food angle, but for me, it’s the waste that kills my soul slowly each day.
These packaged snacks are just so easy to grab, so easy to use, and always a winner for the kids.
But each packaged snack wrapper adds up, and from road trips to every day snacks, I know I could do better and be better when I consider my waste. There’s one big thing stopping me and that’s the overwhelming pressure to be everything else as a mom.
There are so many other things to do besides make a batch of muffins for the lunch tin. But are there really, as I sit down on the keyboard again, I find myself with an empty list of superficial things to do.
— because there’s this blog, the podcast, and the things that go along with these things. These are things I could abandon. They are not must haves in the world. However, in a world where I feel vastly unsupported, increasingly alienated and desperate for conversation, I find myself pulled in to this life draining but soul reviving space instead of making muffins.
The other tasks, they just compose of increasing mental load of motherhood that we begin to talk about, that other generations accepted without furry, but that I challenge every single day. I want to go to work and change the world, that is what I was told I would do. I can’t do that when I’m the only person responsible for ensuring the kids have clothes for next season, planning the grocery budget, cleaning the toys, establishing play dates and activities, remembering birthday’s and anniversaries, and the other menial tasks that go beyond just survival.
The Muffins Never Get Made
Because I live in a house of a two tiny children and one grown man who all need a ton of parenting, and struggle with my own sanity and personal value and worth. It’s hard to make muffins when you feel like a worthless piece of flab who continually gets angry at her children and doesn’t quite resonate with the feelings of love and compassion other mothers seem to insist exist.
It’s also hard to make muffins when you’re children refuse to eat them.
I keep buying the bear paws because it’s easy.
And that’s where we conclude ourselves today, is easy products will continue to dominate the conversation and parenting if we do not support parents.
It’s hard to go zero-waste/low-waste when your battling internal demons. It’s hard to make these shifts when you feel unsupported, lost, and alone in the world.
We won’t change the world, reduce our environmental impact, or shift the future towards something more sustainable if we don’t also consider the immense need to support the men and women drowning in cultural and societal pressures to be something and all the things.
Adding the task of environmental consciousness and sustainability onto the ever toppling plate of expectations could destroy a family. We can’t do that. We need to re-evaluate, support, and ensure that the task of environmentalism doesn’t just fall onto women.
Over the years we have encouraged people to be too much, to do too much, and to show up in all the places. It’s time to remind ourselves to step back and slow down. It’s time to remind ourselves to show up with presence and encouragement, and it’s time to recenter as an entire culture.
Things need to change.
We all know that.
Even if you don’t care at all, you know some day the change will happen, you’re just hoping it won’t have to be you.
It can’t be you if you’re not supported.
The only reason I find myself able to make the smalls shifts I’m making is because motherhood is feeling more manageable, because the seasons have changed and the depression is lifting, but also because I’m finding the support I need to take on the list I think I need to achieve (we can address that lateR)
One thing at a time. One bear paw a time.