Saturday, February 25, 2012

"I just want her to be happy"

With relief I hit the send button on an article written with Richard Conlin, a Seattle City Council member. It’s been over two months of writing and rewriting, review and rewriting. Just as my thumb released the mouse, I started girding my loins for a post to It's a privilege to be able to write these articles, and I do not take it lightly. For this next one, I want to write about how we say about our kids, “I just want her to be happy,” and what that means to me now, as a mother and grandmother.

At least once a week, I take a day and entirely focus on my grandson. He is two and a half and in full swing of “Why”, “No – I don’t like that”, and “What?” Both of us have coughs and runny noses this week, so we spent the day napping and snacking. When his mother was a babe in my arms, I wanted her to grow up feeling confident, strong and caring. I wanted her to live a life that is fulfilling to her on every level – to have all her needs in Maslow’s hierarchy met; I wanted her to be happy. I was one of those mothers. I had a homebirth, homeschooled her, and read everything I could on mothering and babies. My friends thought I was crazy. They also used to tell me she was smart – and I would respond, “The proof is in the pudding.” She graduated two years ago from the University of Washington as one of four of the dean’s medalists from the entire undergraduate class, and today, in an economy where she can’t find a satisfying job, is volunteering at four different nonprofits while starting her own resale business. Today, I would not say my daughter is living in a world where she can really be happy.

And I fear much worse for my grandson. While I hope that my grandson has the chance to be happy when he grows up, what I really dream of is a world where he can meet his own needs, and he also do so in a way that does not impede others from meeting theirs. This is not the case today. Our snack today, before our nap, was raspberries and a banana. The bananas came from 4,000 miles away, the raspberries 1,000. I want my grandson to eat food from which the farming leaves the soil fecund, that reinforces his local economy, and that he knows will not leave nasty chemicals accumulating in his body.

Like any mother, I want my child, and my grandchild, to be happy. I want them to live in a world where everybody – from human bodies to river bodies - thrive. And yet, I doubt that is possible in their lifetimes. We are seeing so much suffering now, and so much of what we do – even with a simple life – is depleting our future. I fear that fewer and fewer people on this planet will get even their rudimentary needs met, and even with inventiveness and resourcefulness, like my daughter is using – the opportunities for happiness are running out. And so, while I don’t think my daughter is living in a world that really allows for happiness, she is working to try to bring about a planet that will.

Laura Musikanski, ED of HI

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