I used to measure my sustainability efforts in loads of cloth diapers, laundered with homemade detergent and hung to dry outside on a line. I used to pride myself on knowing all the vendors at the farmer’s market, for being an owner at our local co-op grocery, and for making homemade baby food out of seasonal vegetables. I wowed my friends with stories of natural birthing and annoyed my family with unsolicited information about ingredients lists. I spent the last eight years perfecting my ecological sustainability, but I was not living sustainably all around.
I am now focusing on “the ability to be sustained.” Sustain has numerous meanings.
I will not give way. I will not yield. I will keep going.
Becoming a single mother has been the hardest challenge of my life and I cannot pretend that things are going to get significantly better any time soon. Finishing graduate school, being due with my third child in February, dealing with the immensity of guilt and fear and frustration that comes with having a restraining order against someone I used to share a bed with, keeping the hope of someday being able to have a conversation with him despite the numerous times he has hurt me…
I have experienced great suffering, and life-altering loss, but I will endure. I will bear the weight of these burdens.
These days living sustainably is measured in how many times I can see the silver lining. It is the smile I wear in public even though I am crying inside. It is my unwillingness to drop out of graduate school no matter how impossible my situation seems; my decision to remain positive about an unplanned pregnancy; my dedication to continuously work toward being a more patient, respectful, and attached parent; my refusal to let my marriage, The Big Incident, or the aftermath of them destroy me.
I will build up my support system and my inner strength. I will live sustainably. The environment’s long-term ecological balance
will certainly benefit from more strong-willed, intelligent, sustaining women.