I've Been Horrible to the Earth, But It's The Kids Fault

by Erin Blakeley
Originally Published: 

Dear Planet Earth:

You’re hurting—I realize that. It’s not that I don’t care about your misery. But you see, Earth, it’s these kids I have. The ones whose footsteps you long to feel frolicking on your beaches and running through your forests and whatnot.

It’s not all playing in the dirt and singing kumbaya with them. It’s late to bed and early to rise. It’s travel soccer and math homework I can’t understand. It’s Mom, what’s for dinner? And What’s for snack? And Can I eat something? It’s Oh shit—that field trip is today/rehearsal is tonight/dance costume costs what???

I can’t catch a break, Earth. And so I have availed myself of every shortcut I can. Often these shortcuts are directly at your expense. Here are the five shortcuts I feel the worst about.

1. Diapering. When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided I would use cloth diapers when he was born. I’d like to say that choice stemmed from a commitment to green living. In reality, it was the result of a blog post I read one night that claimed that the chemical gel they use in Pampers was absorbed directly into a child’s bloodstream, through his buttocks, and might lead to him developing a third eye. I was so worried that I ran out and bought cloth diapers. Then my son was born and began spewing shit everywhere, and I thought to myself, A third eye! Hey, that might not be so bad. Diapers it is!

2. Coffee Delivery. When my second child was born, I lived in New York City, and I’d start each day by calling the deli on the corner and having them deliver an everything bagel and a large cup of coffee. I did this because the thought of traipsing to the deli with two children under two was monstrous and also because I was lazy and New York City is a haven for lazy people. The bagel would arrive wrapped in two sheets of tin foil and placed in a brown paper bag; the coffee came in a disposable coffee cup, where it was placed in its own brown paper bag, which was then placed in the larger brown paper bag with the bagel, and then that bag was placed in a plastic bag. And reader, I threw the whole thing away. Every. Single. Day.

3. K-Cupping. When my husband found out about the coffee delivery habit, I finally broke down and bought a Keurig, which meant I began making my own coffee. It was the classic rat-in-the-cage experiment. My apartment was the cage, I was the rat, and Keurig was the tiny button in the corner of the cage where I’d get my fix. I began hitting it all hours of the day and night. Six, seven, eight K-cups a day. More, more! I’ve mellowed out a bit as my kids have gotten older, but not much. I now average 4 K-cups a day, which is a) why I’ll never afford to retire and b) why the polar ice caps are melting. If you took all of the K-cups I’ve thrown in the trash since my daughter was born, you’d have a tower of K-cups that is 1,327 feet tall — 77 feet taller than the Empire State Building. My own leaning tower of trash.

4. Toilet Paper and Tissues. When my kids were young, I found the only way to make a proper phone call was to hand them a full box of tissues and let them pull them out one by one. At first, I’d try to stuff them back in the box to re-use them, but then my kids found a new game: pull the tissue out and flush it down the toilet. And I got an extra ten minutes of phone time, so I encouraged it.

Toilet paper holds a similar kind of magic. We’ve used it to make leprechaun traps and to turn ourselves into Mummies. It has bandaged the legs and arms of every stuffed animal that lives in my house. I can literally throw six rolls of toilet paper down the basement stairs, shut the door, and not hear from my kids for the next four hours. I mean, theoretically. Not that I’ve tried it.

5. The Stomach Flu. Things that have been barfed on that I have thrown away: two sets of couch pillows, a couch cushion, several Superhero sheet sets, eight or nine towels, countless pairs of pajamas, a few books, a twin size-mattress, a rug and my son’s beloved Fluffers, the Stuffed Cheetah (shout out to Amazon Prime for the speedy and environmentally damaging arrival of Fluffers 2.0 the next day). I promise this list pales in comparison to the gross things I have diligently stain-sticked and washed. But in the immortal words of Kenny Rogers, you’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, and know when to haul that shit out to the curb and run away.

There have been other transgressions, Earth. The four months we ate on all our meals on paper plates after my third child was born. The times I drive to school pick-up, three blocks away, because it’s raining. The piles of plastic crap that comes home in birthday party gift bags that I immediately throw away. All those free balloons from the shoe store that my kids have let go of the minute we’ve stepped outside.

Earth, in my daily quest to hold onto my sanity, I have done so much to ruin you. But if there is a silver lining to my shame, it is my children. Thanks to Earth Day, and The Lorax, my kids are hell-bent on saving you. They have prodded me to provide a trash-free lunch for them. They have organized the recycle bins. They yell at me when I leave the water running while brushing my teeth. In short, they are your last, best hope.

And so, thanks to them, I am turning over a new leaf. From this Earth Day forward, I vow to consider your needs above my own. Honest. Just let me get one more cup of coffee in me and I’m all yours.

Related post: Earth Mother Failure

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