Parenting Green: It’s Not What We Say, It’s What We Do!
Your One Thing
Every day we are challenged to be authentic. Authentic to ourselves, to community, and to our loved ones through our speech or actions. There is a tendency to alter our opinions in hopes that they will match others, or in efforts to not offend, or sometimes its skewed to diffuse tension. The goal is to be expressing honestly and receiving feedback empathetically. I am about to tell a story that touched me so single pointedly around my authentic self and my values. I got a soaring feeling in my heart when it happened and I knew that it aligned with my intentions completely, though I hesitated to share it. I was concerned other people would feel guilty or ashamed if they didn’t care about this one thing to the same degree as I did. I wanted to avoid potentially hurting or alienating myself in the parenting community. What I realized in validating that assumption was that I wasn’t being authentic to myself and I was playing party to the ‘what if’s.’ If we are coveted or fear-based about what we truly are and how we express then we are teaching confusion of opinion and identity to our children.
So here it goes…
During school vacation week our children’s schedules were orchestrated with playdates and kid swapping so that we could continue with our work week. There were even talks of my 6 year old son going on his first ever sleepover, at someone elses’ house! It was pretty much a perfect scenario for this new adventure as my sleepover-seasoned 10 year old daughter would also be matched up with the sisters from that family, and could offer support and comfort with the 6 year old. In the days leading up to this monumental event my son’s excitement was expressed by talking endlessly it seemed about the things he was bringing, questions about the sleeping arrangements, the activities of the evening, and about how awesome it was all going to be. His mind was going! On the morning before the sleepover when he woke up at our house, and went through his typical routine of taking off his nighttime diaper he realized this was one of those things he had questions about.
He came up to me and asked, “When I’m at my sleepover, what do I do with my diaper after I take it off?” At home he places it on top of a bucket that we collect them in for composting though the diaper service.
“You can just throw it in the trash,” I told him.
“Diapers don’t go in the trash.” He replied matter of factly.
That was the moment my heart melted. It’s not like we sit around the dinner table lecturing about this, he had completely and totally absorbed this very clear and grounded thought through our family’s habits. I smiled so big on the inside, it was like all my hard work had paid off. I realized this was really my one thing. The thing I care so passionately about, that is so ingrained in my behavior of diapering my children, that it just feels like synapses go off in my brain on red alert when I think of the idea of throwing them in the trash. I realized he shared the same belief. If he could just go out and have 100 children the Earth would be saved from drowning in diapers I thought.
“You know,” I said, “A lot of people throw diapers in the trash, and it’s OK if you want to put your diaper in the trash.”
“Doesn’t that smell bad?” my daughter chimed in.
“Yes.” I agreed. “But it’s OK if he wants to just bundle it up and throw it in the bathroom trash that morning.”
There was a quiet moment. I was going back to my soaring heart.
“I could also give you a bag, if you want to bring it back home.” I offered.
“Yeah, I want a bag,” he said.
That day more than ever I realized its really not what we say, its what we do that sinks in. Those are the elements creating the habits and behaviors of our children. The more we integrate them into our routine of earth-focused activities, whatever they may be, the more that behavior will continue to develop and blossom into their adulthood. These habits are action for accelerated change. By doing them routinely we are investing in our future. Whether it’s walking or biking into town, hiking the mountains, gardening in the backyard, making medicine from plants, going to the farmer’s market, or participating in river clean-ups, we are aligning our our actions with our intentions and being our authentic selves. I encourage you to share your one thing, to share it boldly, and to create habits from the things that make your heart soar.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.