A few days ago I started an online petition using the change.org platform asking a well known and loved Sydney organisation, Taronga Zoo, to stop the sale of plastic items at this years VIVID light festival. This festival attracts thousands of visitors to the zoo, and millions of visitors from far and wide to Sydney.
With Taronga doing such incredible and important work for conservation, and having an overarching anti-plastic message, the sale of these items saddened me. I rallied the community and within a day I had 250 signatures, was heard by Taronga management, have a meeting arranged with them to discuss the issue, and a commitment from them to assess their product lines and take bolder steps to diversify their products in more environmentally viable ways for the future.
What does this have to do with being a mummy blogger with too much time on my hands? Well this is what someone said to me during this petition. Firstly, anyone with a two year old knows there’s no such thing as having too much time on your hands. I don’t know any mum with a newborn, toddler or school age kid, in paid employment or working tirelessly at home, who has too much time on their hands. Even with the luxury of a cook and cleaner (does anyone know anyone like that? I sure don’t!) there would still be shit to get done. Your kids are your main focus for every waking hour, unless you’re at work and even then the list of things you need to do at home are still flying through your head.
What having a kid does is make you even more impassioned about issues then you were before. I have always been an activist. I was 12 or 13 when I wrote a formal letter to my neighbour explaining that washing his car on his driveway, where soapy subs were able to pass into the stormwater drain, was doing damage to our marine life. That was the age of Nirvana ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and Rage Against The Machine ‘Killing in the Name’. It was well before the internet, online petitions and viral tweets.
I made the decision to have a child and with that comes a huge responsibility to do my bit and leave the planet a better place for him. I was a passionate environmentalist before I had a child, but I now have to really walk-the-walk. I have to do my bit to set a good example to him, and use my voice to create change where I think I can.
Taronga Zoo is the least likely organisation to intentionally do anything to harm our environment. There are far worse organisations do far worse things then selling some plastic glow sticks. This is true. They do a great deal when it comes to educating our younger generations about positive daily actions they can make to protect our wild. Through petitioning them, they have heard us and remain committed to improving their actions in the future.
Right now as I blog, I have a two year old next to me watching the ‘Cars’ movie. It’s a cold, wet and blustery day outside. I have him with me 5 days out of 7 and each day I think of things to do with him that is educational, social and most of all active. I do my own work in bed when he’s asleep, next to him when he’s in the bath, whilst I’m cooking, and other inappropriate times.
I don’t have too much time, I don’t have enough. I want to advocate for Australias pregnant women and their families, I want to be heard, and see real change in our standard maternity system. It is a system that is failing women. This is my other big area of passion and concern. I wish things were as easy to change as it was with Taronga. I wish the powers that be were as open, transparent and honest as the Taronga Society is. As willing to hear community outrage. As willing to acknowledge wrong doings.
In the birth world, there is a lot left to do to create the change we need to see respectful, family-centred and evidence-based care for all. I will keep using my voice, as small as it may seem to be. I will keep educating, and slowly, if we all work together, little ripples of change will grow into a tsunami. This is my hope. And for that, I will find the time.
Denise Georges is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in Sydney. She facilitates engaging and evidence-based childbirth preparation classes, as well as private classes, to bring confidence to expectant parents prior to their birth. She’s an advocate for respectful maternity care, and believes women have incredible capability and power to birth safely and healthily.