In her 2000 little book “A Short Guide to a Happy Life,” Anna Quindlen writes a bit about life before and after her mother’s sickness and death. Her entire life, according to Quindlen is then thought in terms of before and after her mother’s death. She writes:
“Before” and “after” for me was not just before my mother’s illness and after her death. It was the dividing line between seeing the world in black and white, and in Technicolor. The lights came on, for the darkest possible reason.
When a group of friends were recently asked if they had before and after moments other than weddings and births, we call came up with various epiphany moments. One person immediately called the times we’re in as BT and AT — Before and After Trump. Rather than nostalgia for the BT days, the demarcation concept gave others in the group optimism that there would be an AT.
For most of us, a before an after moment is based in something negative happening — a bad fight, a lie exposed, or even Trump or Obama elected, depending on which side of the fence you might be on. For others, it was a positive experience –a mentor moment, a graduation and launch of a new career, an aha moment of what to do next with a creative endeavor, or even Trump or Obama elected, again depending on your red or blue leanings. In almost every case, Quindlen’s assessment that “the lights came on,” seems appropriate.
Now people who were politically apathetic are marching. People who believed in ecology, but were inactive about climate change are bold advocates for Mother Earth. Others who only advocated for the arts are now science advocates and vice versa.
All of us have had before and after moments and this Mother’s Day is as good a time as any to consider not only our initial after moment — birth, and honor our mothers, but also of other birth and after moments and what they may have fostered in our lives. Here are some related Mother’s Day Little Hinge actions to consider:
- On Mother’s Day, donate in your mother’s name to a cause that celebrates Mother Earth. Suggestions include the National Wildlife Federation, the oldest North American wildlife group dedicated, according to their website, to “inspiring future generations of conservationists. NWF is the organization that created Ranger Rick and has a new backyard project that
- If you’re thinking of buying your mother plantable flowers for Mother’s Day, research how to create backyard habitats rather than just floral display gardens. Learn about certified wildlife habitats, gardens or larger areas that provide food, water, places to raise young (even baby butterflies), and use sustainable gardening practices.
- If you’re a mother or grandmother with a little person in your life, consider taking out a Ranger Rick subscription to inspire them to think about ecology. There are three different editions geared toward ages 0-4, 4-7 and 7-12.
- If you are in an apartment, or your mother is, consider buying her an indoor herb garden so she and you can start cooking with fresh herbs and freezing herbs for winter cooking. One fun herb container is offered by Uncommon Goods and provides self-water mason jar herb kits. It’s too late to order for Mother’s Day, but can be easily ordered in time to arrive for a great summer growing season.
- If you have a lawn or outside garden, start to reduce the use of pesticides on your vegetable and flower gardens, particularly those with Neonicotinoids. Products containing these harmful chemicals are listed in the second page of this pdf produced by the Xerces Society. Although pesticides may keep aphids away, they can also be transferred to pollinating animals such as bees, and are thought to be a contributor to the concerning decline of native bee populations. According to Xerces, more than a quarter of all native bumble bee populations are at the point of potential extinction.
In a different blog series, I wrote about my own mother who taught me, among many other things about resilience. You can still access it on my Pinterest site. My mother survived World War II, prejudice, and continuous underestimations of her intelligence and insights. If she could survive that, surely those of us in this resurgent feminist era can survive this current era and perhaps be enlightened with Quindlen’s technicolor focus on how to rebuild, improve and create a sustainable society for our families in the years to come. After all, that’s what all mothers always try to do.