Before I had my son, I’m ashamed to admit that I really didn’t pay close attention to much of anything. I waltzed through life consuming what I wanted and doing what I wanted. Pollutants, chemicals in our bath/body/cleaning products, issues overseas, politics—the list goes on of all the things that weren’t at the forefront of my mind.
But after becoming a mother, with the opening of my heart for a new life, my eyes were opened to a plethora of important issues that needed my attention.
I suppose the worry started when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. I worried about the type of mother I would be. Would I do my very best to protect my little one? Would I be able to raise him with good moral fiber and make decisions with his wellness in mind? There were thoughts running through my head that I’d never experienced before. When my son arrived, this business got real. My worry became tangible. I was holding human life in my hands both literally and figuratively.
Much to my surprise, as I started to ease into the routine, I started rocking the basics and was ready to look for ways to improve the overall health of our family unit.
There were areas of my life that were easy to change in the process of growing into my new role as a mother and protector. I looked at the kinds of products I was bringing into my home. Starting with the baby’s and then the ones my husband and I were using, I was horrified to discover the kinds of chemicals that are in our bath, body and cleaning brands. Taking it upon myself to do the appropriate research and make those swaps was an easy thing that I could do for my family. Some of the other easy changes that I made included upping our recycling game, shopping local and taking a look at what kinds of foods we were eating. I felt like I was really trying and succeeding at making our lives better.
Making my family’s life better, it turns out, was an easy feat compared to making our world better.
Being a mom unlocked something inside of me. With the unbelievable power to love came this overwhelming need to do good for other people in the world. It sounds cliché for sure, but my eyes were opened to the plight of human suffering in so many different ways. Being somewhat scatterbrained at times, it was tough for me to nail down specific areas where I could make an impact in my everyday life, but eventually those areas started emerging.
Where could I make a physical impact? I’d start volunteering. I worked on fundraising efforts for multiple worthwhile charities. I spent some time with my local Special Olympics. I worked on renovating a widower’s home in my community with other volunteers. I was using my hands to make a difference—maybe not on a huge scale, but in a way that I could feel good about.
I’d learned about the fashion industry’s dark side, second only to oil in pollution when it comes to utilizing child labor and unsafe working conditions. I couldn’t imagine my child in this type of environment. What could be done? I could stop buying fast fashion, the leading cause of perpetuating the vicious cycle. I could shop secondhand whenever possible. I could look for brands with knowledge of their supply chains that use fair-trade and organic materials. I could make my own clothes and repurpose the ones I already had. I could ensure I wasn’t contributing to the waste in our landfills by donating clothes or reselling. I could do all of these things, and so I did. Making mindful purchasing decisions goes a long way, whether you believe it or not. Your money is your vote.
I started seeing issues within our country that I grew passionate about. I was never very political nor did I pay attention to the goings on of our politicians. Again, once I started paying attention, I could see that there were issues that were important to fight for, because setting a good example for my son is only the tip of the iceberg. Being a person who acts—well, that is significant. Making my voice heard for issues and campaigns that I believed in became a priority for me. I could walk to end gun violence. I could write letters to my state representatives when I felt I was being ignored. I could encourage others in my life to become passionate about their world because I want everyone to be an active participant in life. I could do all of these things, and so I did.
To attribute all of my “passion” to motherhood would be a mistake.
I think that as I have become older and more mature, my focus is less on myself and more on the people in my life and my environment. Part of it is probably a piece of my personality that needed a jumpstart as well.
Motherhood did, however, motivate me.
What I do know is that having a person in my care, with another on the way, makes me want to be a positive force in their lives. I want to show them that they too can make a difference, whether in small, everyday ways or on a much larger scale. They will be active participants in the world. I want my children to pay attention to their surroundings from the start, and I hope I’ve figured out a way to show them how.
Author: Amanda Light
Image: Oleg Sidorenko/Flickr
Editors: Emily Bartran; Catherine Monkman