I have a confession to make: I was not always a Green Mom. Just like I wasn’t “born” being a mom, I wasn’t born being green either. Growing up, I ate vegetables out of a can, drank water out of the hose on hot days, and consumed waaaaay too much sugary cereal. As a teen, I sprayed too much hairspray from an aerosol can, threw things away without thinking, and drove every chance I got, even if I was only going down the block.
When I did become a mom, my attitude changed. I looked at the world differently. Suddenly, there would be little people looking to me for guidance and possibly mimicking my actions. Would I be serving vegetables out of can? What would I say if little junior suddenly took a nice, long drink from the hose? Was sugary cereal going to be presented on my kitchen table each morning?
During my pregnancy, I had a lot of time to think about these things. Of course, I worried about the usual stuff like baby names, cute outfits, whether or not to breastfeed. You know, the usual. But I was also giving a lot of thought to the bigger picture. So during that thought process, I decided to “go green”…sort of.
We began by doing things that I knew to do:
Reusing (or repurposing as I liked to call it) things around the house.
Recycling whatever we could.
Shopping at thrift stores and garage sales.
Walking and biking whenever possible.
Turning off lights and water when not in use.
Eating more fruits and vegetables from local farmers.
Yep, I thought I was doing really well. Sure, I wasn’t composting or growing my own vegetables and when I did drive, it was an SUV. But hey, compared to most people I knew, I should have been up for the “Green Mom of the Year” award. If only I had known.
When my son was just a baby, not even 2 years old, he would get sick – A LOT! We were often in the emergency room and he had quite a bit of trouble breathing. He was diagnosed with a severe case of asthma and we were told that he needed to sleep in an air conditioned room year round. I was beside myself worrying about him and fretted over every cough and sniffle.
Weren’t kids in “green” households supposed to be healthy? I had breastfed him, we gave away our family dog, I cleaned my house constantly and still he was sick. So I stepped up my efforts. If there were germs in my house that were contributing to his asthma, then I was waging “germ warfare”!
And wage war I did! When I wasn’t playing with our otherwise happy, verbal toddler, I was cleaning, scrubbing, wiping, laundering, disinfecting and vacuuming. My philosophy was that if I could stay ahead of the germs, he wouldn’t be exposed to anything that could cause him to catch a cold, which meant no asthma attack. Wrong! His asthma continued to get worse and I continued to “step up” my cleaning efforts. People used to make fun of me because I carried Clorox Wipes and a can of Lysol in my purse!
Then, when my little guy was in elementary school, after the older kids had grown up and moved on with their own lives, I discovered something. Now, I was sick. I really couldn’t put my finger on it, but it felt a little like having the flu that would never go away. I was sweating at night (could I really be going through menopause already?) So I went to the doctor for tests and blood work.
Now, I won’t go into all the boring details of my illness other than to say that when you are told you have to start seeing an oncologist, it does something to you. I was not a drinker, nor was I a smoker. I was not overweight, did not have diabetes and there was no family history of cancer. My mind frantically searched for an answer.
Apparently, my immune system was in horrible shape, my liver was not functioning well, and it probably had nothing to do with the Lucky Charms I had eaten as a kid. So as I began getting treated, I took stock of the decisions I had made, did a lot of research at the library and on the Internet. And I began to wonder this: was I somehow responsible for my own illness, as well as my son’s? Seemed like valid questions. But rather than wonder and rather than worry, I took action. And THAT, my friends, was the defining moment.
First, I took a hard look at what we were eating and where we were getting it from. I educated myself about processed foods vs. whole foods; organic foods; farmer’s markets; and exactly what vitamins and nutrients our bodies needed every single day.
Secondly, I took a look at what we were putting on our bodies. I made more educated choices about our soaps, shampoos, bubble baths, sun block. I started reading labels and doing my own research. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t want to buy it.
Finally, I realized that the “army” I was using in my germ warfare was actually working against me. I got rid of bleach, ammonia and other “cleaning agents”. I got rid of my air fresheners and toxic candles and all those things that I thought smelled good. I started using products that were friendly to the environment, and friendly to our health.
Today, I am happy to say that I no longer carry a mass inside my chest. I am completely cancer free. My lymphatic system is working just fine and my liver is healthy. My son no longer visits the emergency room, no longer takes medication or requires breathing treatments, and hasn’t used an inhaler in years.
I no longer look at being green as a trend, but as a responsibility. We made sweeping changes in our household from the food we eat to the products we use. But even a few small steps each day can lead you in the right direction. It took time to get where we are now. But spending time on the research gave me a focus and every day I gained more knowledge. And with knowledge comes power. Power helps you to have confidence in your decisions. And those decisions could very well save your life. I know, because that’s what happened to me.
Whether you’re already committed to the green lifestyle or just starting out, I wish you health and success!