Thinking Like a Grandmother

I am not a grandmother…yet. I do have two grown children who are definitely old enough to have children of their own…& who, I suspect, want to. I think their “biological clocks” are probably ticking…maybe even loudly. I know mine certainly was at their ages!


When I was their ages, there was a lot I (& most if not all parents) didn’t know about parenthood. We didn’t know then that all of our children were being born “pre-polluted.” We didn’t know about the wide range of toxins children are now born with – or that most of a mother’s lifetime body burden (a phrase not then in use) of dioxin (another word I never heard mentioned back then) passes into her first child in the breast milk. (I just looked over Chapter 12 in Sandra Steingraber’s wonderful book Having Faith – An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood. Which brought tears to my eyes. But I digress…)


I was a pretty virtuous pregnant lady. I gave up smoking & drinking & cut my coffee consumption down to one cup a day (this was a challenge, & I should have given it up altogether, of course. Mea culpa). Of course I didn’t know then about possible lead exposure from paint (or other sources). Or possible pesticide exposure from nearby sprayed lawns & the corn field behind our house (atrazine was almost certainly in use & very likely also in our well water). I didn’t know that our supposedly wonderfully “safe” & tasty well water would soon become polluted (it probably already was) – or due to what variety of substances it would soon become … no longer safe.


I didn’t know then that radionuclides suppress our immune system (chemicals too. And the thinning ozone layer (excess radiation, essentially). And various other things. Even sugar!!). Or that our location in the general area of 2 gigantic nuclear plants (Pickering & Darlington) may have had health impacts on us as well.


I was, in a word, rather uninformed. And quite naïve, I must admit, too. In spite of having worked for several years for a federal government agency that, quite frankly, did not inspire confidence or loyalty or truth-telling. But that’s a tale for another day entirely; there really MUST be a limit to how much I will allow myself to digress here…


I think I’ve always been a pretty good Mom to my children. I fed them well & loved them to pieces. Read them tons of stories & ensured they got lots of “fresh” air (heh heh). Played outside with them in the snow when they were little, & always fed them “an apple a day to keep the doctor away” (didn’t know then about the pesticides in the apples, mind you…).


Now? Times have changed.


Now, I can’t help but wonder, how will I feel if/when they have children??


I think I will likely feel … ambivalent. I’ll feel great joy at the prospect of grandmotherhood, no doubt. Also, considerable trepidation.


The world is such an awfully mixed-up place, isn’t it?? A person hardly knows what to think about it all.


Or do.


Or say to one’s children, even, hmmm?


I recently went to a showing of the film “Toxic Trespass” in Toronto. Both the producer (Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg) & the writer/director (Barri Cohen) were there. I’d seen the film before, but I wanted to see it again with my “thinking like a grandmother” hat on.


It’s been a long time since I’ve placed much trust in our politicians/government to “look out for us.” This film illustrates graphically why we would be foolish to do so. Federal government agencies Health Canada & Environment Canada seem to be mostly into “minimizing & denying” environmental problems & their related health impacts. (This is so laughably an understatement to fellow long-time activists that I do apologize. Sometimes I find myself being the mistress of understatement…)


People who live in Windsor, Ontario know what I’m talking about.


And the people of “Chemical Valley” in Sarnia, also. (ecojustice recently produced a report entitled “Exposing Canada’s Chemical Valley.”)


Jim Brophy sure knows about it. He’s the former Director of Windsor & Sarnia’s OHCOW (Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers) & has been trying for years & years to make our provincial & federal governments take some responsibility. (He’s now with Toxic Free Canada)


One thing I know is that we are not “supposed” to become emotional about such things. Being “emotional” is very definitely distinctly frowned upon. I’ve been up & down the block on that, trust me. I’ve been angry; I’ve been sad. I’ve even despaired, & I’ve been resigned.


I think the only way for me to be right now – as I contemplate possible grandmotherhood – is determined.


Determined to keep right on trying to influence & rouse people from their apathy.


As I said to a young Mom at the “Toxic Trespass” showing in Toronto, it’s fine to feed your children well (I’m all over organic food, needless to say) & protect them as best you can from bad air & poisoned water & nuclear dangers & lead exposure – & I strongly recommend that we all do so, to the very, very best of our ability.   ** see Collections posting for links to the Lead postings on this blog.


But if we are not also working simultaneously on policy change – & very frequently on government or regime change (certainly the case here in Canada!! But don’t get me started…) & efforts to make the world safer for ALL of us, I do despair for our grandchildren. All of our grandchildren. Even the grandchildren of the politicians & the corporate polluters & the bloodless, beaten down bureaucrats who carry out the government & corporate agenda.


ALL of them.


‘Cos we’re all in this darn old leaky boat together, hmmm? The air & the water & the pollution? We all get to … share it all, don’t we? None of these things respect our human-drawn “borders.”





‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” – Bertrand De Jouvenel