HOPING FOR A GOOD TIME AND A LONG TIME

12:03 PM

by Natalie Green

As an Australian belonging to a land gasping for water in unprecedented drought conditions, when my son was first born I almost felt proud of my efforts to restrict water-usage in my home. Although, it wasn’t exactly an effort. The true effort was staying awake for days on end and breastfeeding almost constantly. My little – and I repeat: little - bit to save water wasn’t a sacrifice at all. It was all part of the joy of a newborn. About 120 seconds after I got into the shower each day, I would have to get out – soapy hair or not. My little one was crying again.

Of course, the very sad reality is that I wasn’t really saving much on water. I had a never-ending pile of washing to get through. Over a year later and I’m still going through it.

Warnings about the water shortage are currently centre stage. It’s gradually localised from an international issue to a national concern, state problem, city crisis and now an individual responsibility. Necessity is the mother of all invention and while some might argue it too little too late, the search for solutions has become more prominent. Ready or not, Sydney’s desalination project is in the pipeline and construction of that pipeline is due to start later this year.

The other day I started thinking about my family’s use of water and how we could start changing things to “do our bit”. ‘Desalination,’ I mused amongst my washing, washing up and grubby bubby. ‘I wonder if it’s worth checking into desalivation!’ When he was younger, my son dribbled for Australia. Put a bucket under his chin – how’s that for a catchment area.

Well, you’ve got to laugh sometimes don’t you?

The environment, the future state of the world, crime … everything seems to take on a more significant edge once you’re a parent. I should have known when I first pregnant and I cried during the TV show, Renovation Rescue. There I was thinking it was just the hormones making me overly sensitive to a woman’s joyous reaction to her new home after she’d suffered 15 years of her husband’s unfinished home DIY attempts. But it wasn’t just hormones. It was my official welcome to Sookville. Population: mums!

I cry at the drop of a cute little hat with a pom-pom on top. The water works begin as soon as I am faced with a moving Kleenex commercial, act of genuine kindness, story of a sick child – or any child. And from talking to other mums, I’m pretty confident that it’s not just me.

My explanation is that it stems from wanting the best for your children - which is not surprising - as from the moment they’re born (before even), life seems geared towards making their lives comfortable, safe and happy. To be confronted even for a split second with how much they mean to us or what life would be like without them evokes a gush of emotion.

Just as we look at our rural neighbours and watch the severity of their water situation with heartfelt sympathy, deep down we feel so lucky it isn’t us. We make mental notes, theorise, rationalise and agonise over how we can prevent our family from suffering too.

Despite all this, we parents constantly look to the future with hope. Hopefully, the hope outweighs the fear. I have a new dream for my son every time I see him do something he likes. Fascinated by trees means he’ll be a future horticulturist. Points his toes; will he be ballet dancer?? Won’t-put-down-that-tennis-racket correlates to Mum and Dad travelling the world pro tennis circuit with our title-winning child prodigy.

One of life’s biggest questions is: what’s going to happen? Once we reach adulthood, this is a concern that becomes more concerning and even more so once we’re parents. Beyond the individual hopes we have for our offspring and what they will offer the world, we wonder what the world has in store for them. Will there be water coming out of the taps or will the dry prevail? Will dust and tumbleweed one day sweep down the main street? Will our streets be safe from attack (from terrorists, gangs, tsunamis … take your pick)? What will be the repercussions if we continue to destroy important and vulnerable ecosystems?

So we face some pretty serious issues. These here are soul-searching, water-saving times. And I don’t want my child to merely survive; I want him to have a great time!

As good providers we must answer: How do we maintain and sustain life? How do we strike a balance between owning and honouring our responsibility to the future and not taking ourselves too seriously? To be honest, I’m kinda curious how I’m going to answer these myself.

I guess a starting point today is to pick my battles, do what I can to conserve water, swap my tissues for environmentally-friendly hankies and encourage my boy’s potential (nice volley, honey!)

…which makes me wonder if we could appeal to Mother Nature’s mummy soft spot, expose her to Renovation Rescue and wait for the rain to come!

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