One of the neat things about working with on this project is getting an in depth look at all the incredible things — like building playgrounds, growing asparagus, and greening schools — us mamas do. Sharing stories about moms doing their most to make a difference is gratifying and — on most days — gives me hope and fuels my inspiration. Then there are those rare days my admiration for the unstoppable mommas we meet turns into internal admonishment for not doing enough in my own life.
And OK, sure, that’s probably an accurate take. I could do more — we all could. But it’s not like I sit around every day doing nothing. I go to protests. I donate to shelters and I’m obsessive about the three Rs — at times annoyingly so. I use solid shampoos, bring my own mug, and shop in the bulk section. But despite all that (and a bunch of other bits I won’t run on about, when it hits, the guilt – like the struggle, is real.
So today when I woke to a beautiful morning, I decided to go on the offensive and do something to keep my inadequate feelings at bay. Armed with a couple of bags, gardening gloves, and my trusty garbage picker — possibly the best $2.25 I ever spent — I took a page from mamas Sarah Dantzer and Cindy Wilding and set out into my neighbourhood to see what trash I might find.
Now, I live in what appears to be a pretty tidy, family oriented neighbourhood in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s North End. Before heading out I assumed — quite wrongly — that there wouldn’t be much of a haul. That was before I had to turn back 6 blocks in because the handle on the reusable bag I’d been filling had already given out. As I lugged it awkwardly home, filled near to the brim with coffee cups, candy wrappers, water bottles, pop cans, bottle caps, plastic straws, a hunk of iron, a driveway marker, and cigarette butts — so many cigarette butts — I was disheartened to see new trash on the stretch already covered. The wind is a cruel fiend.
But, despite the broken handle, and the seemingly never ending supply of litter to be collected, I feel good about the time spent tidying up my ‘hood. I even met some chatty but delightful neighbourhood ladies full of questions about my dollar store grabber, and got the nod of respect from a couple of elderly gentlemen out for their morning stroll. So, yeah, I’ll definitely go again but next time I’m bringing a better bag.
Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based freelance writer, bartender, and editor of the Whole Family Happiness Project. She lives in Halifax, with her son and a penchant for really strong tea, yoga, hammocks, and hoppy beer.
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The Whole Family Happiness Project is a group of moms exploring our connection to our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us. Come join us on Facebook.