Monday, May 16, 2011

Having Faith

Last night I went to one of the monthly "Mom's (or Mum's depending on who is organizing it) Night Out".  This is one of many, many organized events by a group called MESSAGE, a support group of mothers for mothers.  The only stipulation is you gotta speak English.  There are about 2000 members mainly from the US and the UK.  However, I have enjoyed meeting women from all over the world at different gatherings.  There are playgroups, walking groups, holiday events, wisdom filled forums and mom's night out just to name a few. Okay, anyway, that is not what this post is about. BUT it is a really cool group to be a part of.

So, as I was saying, I was at a mom's night out with 5 other women.  I was actually talking to a French mom who had lived for a good amount of time in Amsterdam and was married to a Brit.  Her daughter is 5 months old.  She told me her daughter was called Angelina Reina.  The Angelina part was chosen for similar reasons to Sabine.  You can't fuck it up no matter what your accent is.  You should hear how many just wonderful names in English are slaughtered with the French pronunciation.  Aurore, one of my all time favorite names sounds like someone is gagging on dry toast when they say it.  Of course, the same can be said for some French names.  Hortense while not exactly the most adorable name in English sounds very cool in French.

The French mama was telling me about her daughter's middle name (Reina) and that it was BOTH her grandma's first name.  Weird coincidence, non?  She then went on to tell me in pretty graphic detail about how difficult life was for one of the Grandma Reina's.  Her mother had been born just after WW2 ended.  Her G-ma had 10 children in all, all growing up in either a war time or post-war time, and all growing up in severe poverty.  As in, not enough food.  As in malnutrition.  As in skinny as a bean pole.  And then she commented that she looks at her little Angelina and feels so happy that her daughter 'has it all'.

It was weird because I would normally agree 100%.  My levels of gratitude for my quality of life, my personal freedom to go where I want, my ability to make important decisions (like who/when/if I will marry, how many children I want to have, how I dress etc), vast quantities of food at my ready - all year around, clean drinking water, life without violence around me, a healthy, vivacious daughter and a plethora of medical care at my disposal are consistently high.  I don't take any of it for granted, really, I don't.

I responded to the French mama, "Well, for now".  And even as I said it, it felt rude.  It felt like I was challenging her.  Like I was being condescending to her delight in providing for her daughter what her mother didn't have and to some extent, from what she said, she also lacked.  But it was odd, because I have felt the same "Sabine has it all" when I think about her existence so far.  She has never even been cold, for crying out loud!  So, where did this come from?

It came from an honest place, a painfully honest place.

But it is more likely than not that the reality of Sabine's future world will be stark.  We are, and have been, as a species living like there is no tomorrow for a long time.  Climate change, oil spills, less regulation, nuclear spills, less accountability, endangered animals, pre-packaged food (I have seen hardcore plastic used for Pringles, wth?), loss of rainforest, more people, more people, and more people all demanding clean water and washing machines that are designed NOT to last and go into the landfills at a horrifying rate and I am going to save my rant against meat for another exciting post.

These are just a few of the issues that her generation ARE going to have to deal with.  Most generations believe that they had it the best and that everything is going to hell for the future.  However, in my lifetime alone there are lakes that I swam in as a child that you just can't anymore.  There are varieties of apples that aren't available anymore because they aren't mass produced.  I know that you have your own examples and the reality is, the future will be different than today and a lot of it is not good.  (One slight disclaimer: I don't want to say that many things won't be better too, because no doubt there will be some improvements too... but we just can't bring back the platypus from extinction now can we?)

So, the French mama responds, "Well, a person must have faith in the future.  I mean a child represents one's faith in the future".  But I don't.  I do not have faith in the future, not in the way that I would like to see the future.  Less development, less people, less animal poaching, less tree-cutting, less cars, less multiple bathrooms in homes, less less less.  Unfortunately, we are a species who tend to like MORE, MORE, MORE.  I am not perfect, do I have a closet FULL of clothes and still complain I have nothing to wear?  Do I always turn the light off when I leave the room? No.  I mean we are all guilty of being decadent or not-conscious sometimes.  But I do try to live and act with intention and keep it as simple as possible. 

A Tomorrow Person
BUT, What also became very clear to me as I had a flash image of less bio-diversity, more sick and dying populations due to lack of clean water, the limitless gap between the uber-rich and the super-poor - was my little Sabine's tenaciousness.  Even with my lack of faith in the future as I read about the deplorable state of our Earth ... I can't help but feel yeah, I am gonna say it, HAPPY knowing that Sabine will be there. 

And no, these are not things I am going to tell Sabine about until she is much, much older.  Her 'job' right now (and while she is a child) is to be in a state of endless discovery and bliss.  She has a whole life a head of her to be aware of spooky stuff. 

I CANNOT change the outcome of the future, I cannot stop people from taking plastic bags at the store,  not pro-creating with intention, stop the poachers from killing the lions in Africa or the rainforest in Brazil or move US tax dollars from subsidizing big oil or corn to better (much better) education for Tomorrow People.  

I CAN (and will do my best) to prepare little Sabine with many different skills as I can (with help of course) and provide as many inspiring resources for her to thrive in her future world as possible.  So, do I have faith in the future?  No, I really don't.  However, I DO have faith in my little girl, also known as "my little brick shit house".  Yeah, she is sturdy (just look at all those bruises and cuts, geez!) and for that I am grateful too.


mama melis said...

As someone with a French name, continually butchered by all the English people I work with, I sympathize with you when choosing a name. For me, a name that transitions cultures and languages was VERY important. Raising children in today's climate is definitely a challenge, one that open minded people(like us) are up for. Knowledge is a gift that we can give our children to arm them in the world at large. Love and experience will give them the confidence to share their knowledge with other people. Hopefully, this will be our legacy.

oliviadog said...

Yes,up for it (raising kid) indeed and in fact, loving every moment! I know you enjoy it too. Your little sweeties are just adorable. Thanks for the comment :)

Anonymous said...

Your daughter is sooo cute! And I just love the name Sabine! My name is Danielle, and I never really associated with my name until I heard it spoken by a French person! In American English it sounds so whiny... DanYELL. But with the French accent it sounds elegant and feminine like it's supposed to. :)