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My Daughter Wants To Be a Mother Someday, But I’m Worried Our Dying Planet is in the Way

Jul 23, 2019

I was slightly taken aback when my nine-year-old daughter said she planned on having “at least four kids, maybe more."

It wasn’t just the visions of diapers, exhaustion or a mega-sized mini-van that gave me pause (although yes, all those things). What made me stop and ponder how to answer was my lack of knowing what the future holds for my kids.

With so much uncertainty and unease about our planet’s fragile state, I have no way of knowing what the world will look like by the time my daughter is old enough to even consider having children. I’m not sure how much damage we can undo, and if it’s possible to remedy this catastrophic mess of a climate emergency we have brought on ourselves. Will my daughter be allowed to have even one child, let alone four? Will she even want to bring a child into such an uncertain future?


Relevant Reading: 10 Easy Eco Switches to Help Save the Earth


I didn’t know what to say to her. I don’t want to scare my kids, but I also see little point in glossing over reality and giving strong reassurances that I don’t believe. After all, it’s this next generation that is going to bear the brunt of the consequences for the damage done in the industrial revolution. It absolutely sucks, but they’re the ones who are going to pay the price, and have more limits placed on what they can do, where and how they can travel and what their world will look like to inherit.

They may have to do what we didn't: make personal sacrifices for the greater good.

And so I didn’t turn away from the elephant in the room when my daughter brought up her desire to channel The Brady Bunch. I took a deep breath and initiated a conversation about that very topic, talking about the resources of the planet, our desire to help heal our planet Earth and the many different ways to be a parent. I reiterated that I thought that both she and her brother would be amazing parents, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be a grandmother. I also admitted that I simply didn’t know exactly what the future held, but that I was always supportive of being open to possibilities.

Adopting a Fresh Outlook

The next time the topic came up — I think she was sharing her name choices for the four-plus brood — she looked up and gave me a smile. “Don’t worry, mommy. I’ll probably adopt any kids that need a loving and safe home to give them the kind of life I’ve known.”

Luckily I was in the kitchen making dinner and about to chop an onion, so I did that quickly to hide the fact that I suddenly had tears streaming down my face. Mopping them away, I asked my daughter how she had come up with the idea to adopt. She had always known about it because some of her friends were adopted, and a teacher at her school was adopting several children from Haiti.

It wasn’t something that I really considered for myself, to be totally honest. And I feel selfish and narrow-minded for admitting that 15 years ago, when I first started thinking about having kids, adoption was never a serious possibility — and I know I’m not alone. Many people of my generation, at least in Canada, didn’t think that much about the impact having one or more kids would have on the Earth and its resources. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't necessarily think about what it would mean for children already born and in desperate need of a home. We didn’t consider limiting how many children we would have for the sake of mitigating the stress on the planet’s resources. We probably weren’t too concerned about a catastrophic collapse of civilization within our own lifetime.


Relevant Reading: What to Expect When You're Expecting...Climate Change


But our kids do have to consider this. This is their reality. And so, although I would love to be a grandmother, and can’t wait to see my kids in their roles as parents, I have no idea how that will play out. I’m grieving a lot of things these days, the least of which is maybe not being a grandparent. I’m sad that our kids will see beautiful ecosystems destroyed. That they may not feel that they can travel by air to see the seven wonders of the world. That they might already feel guilty for wanting a large family, a big house or to eat the occasional hamburger. I feel ashamed that it has gotten this far, and that for all my concerns about keeping my children safe, happy and in love with life, I missed fighting the biggest challenge of all back when there was a greater chance for doing some good.

So if my daughter takes in fifty rescue dogs, I’ll be there for her, allergies and all. If she wants to adopt babies, kids or teens from anywhere there is need, I’ll support her. I’ll try to keep fighting to make sure that she has the choices, freedoms and luxuries that I had growing up.

I’ll do my best, but it won’t stop the world and society from changing. Some of these things she will have to figure out on her own. But based on her current level of awareness — and sacrifice — I know she’ll do just fine.

Article Author Janice Quirt
Janice Quirt

Read more from Janice here.

Janice Quirt is a yoga teacher and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful hills of the Headwaters in Orangeville, Ontario, with her blended family of seven. With kids spanning a decade in age, there are always some shenanigans on the go, and she loves being in the middle of it all. Janice loves sharing nature, eco-living and new experiences with her family and friends, as well as a fine cup of coffee and a good book.

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