Taming My Parental Anxiety:
Building a Connection to Nature
“ We will be known forever by the tracks we leave” -Dakota
I used to be so anxious about so many things when our son was born.
First it was of course- the vaccine debate, and then breastfeeding him while taking chemical stabilizers. Then somehow, as he became older, it evolved slightly to more outward concerns, like, how much screen time is he getting? Is his development “normal”? Is he getting enough time with us or too little at kindergarten?”. So many of the worries and concerns that other parents share. Although, I realize I am extraordinarily lucky being able to support him with a stable family environment in 2 relatively safe countries. The irony isn’t lost on me, rather, it fuels me to want to make a difference even more than before.
In the last year, my anxieties have shifted completely. It’s become a more urgent surfacing anxiety regarding whether he and his children (should he chose to have them) will survive on this planet.
Because, as much as it frightens me to say it, our planet is in a crisis.
And it’s no secret to those who have known me during my parenting journey so far that I’ve struggled with mental and extraordinary physical health difficulties. But what I’m grappling with now is far worse than anything I’ve previously experienced. What I, and all of us as parents and grandparents have to deal with now is existential crisis.
Past generations have had their own worries, I make no mistake about that. Wars, famines, disease, displacement, to name but a few. They had to raise their children in times where the future seemed ominous to say the least. But did they ever worry about, quite literally, the scientifically proven possibility of the end of the human species? Possibly.
My son is 5 years old. Here in Sweden, he’s about a year away from entering the official preschool system, before at 7, he’ll be starting his very first day at “big school”. I already know which topics and subjects will come up; what remains for us as parents is how will he cope? I dread the moment his teacher tells him about climate change. I dread that moment because it will be, to me, the start of a fall down the metaphorical rabbit hole. He’ll likely come home and ask us about it. He’ll likely ask his friends, his peer group. (Although he might forget about it within a few minutes)
But I won’t.
My anxiety is rising, in fear of what the uncertain future will bring. But some things seem certain- global warming is set to rise to above 1.5 degrees in the coming decades. Some scientists project that we are looking at far greater temperature increases in that time.
He has, supposedly, his whole life in front of him- but what will that future contain if the entire planet is thrown into times of climate chaos, shortage of food, water wars, species extinction, and biodiversity loss?
So to tame my parental anxiety, I escape to nature and reclaim my birthright- freedom of mind. I do as much yoga as I can. I’m trying to phase in a vegetarian lifestyle. I’m conscious about how I emit the carbon that is rapidly warming our planet. I’m so certain that these life experiences help ease stress, that I simply want to share my learnings with others.
Wishing you, the reader of this- a moment of calm in this busy life.
For it is precious.