Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Garbage Pickers

I had this vision when I was working that when I was on maternity leave I would do a ton of home improvement and decorating projects and I'd post on my blog daily.

But then Noah was born and maternity leave started . . . and reality kicked in.

I'm exhausted.

I don't know where the hours in the day go -- I spend time with Noah, nap, clean the house, cook and then Imani is home on the bus. We do homework and practice violin and then Jason is home. The day is over and I don't know how it went by so fast.

When the weather cooperates, Imani and I go for walks with Noah and Maggie.  One day a few weeks ago when we were on one of our walks, Imani asked me if we could pick up trash in the neighborhood.  She had spotted a muddy grocery bag tangled in a shrub.

"No Imani. Don't touch it. It's full of germs and you don't know who touched it last" I said.

I realized I was saying this to a child who is constantly on the look out for treasures on the streets of New York city when we go to visit Aunt D.  I also realized it didn't go along with the "green" messages Imani had received in her elementary school. 

I was just feeling lazy and crabby and I didn't want to pick up garbage.

Of course, Imani was disappointed.

"How about we pick up trash on Earth Day.  We could wear gloves," she pleaded.

"Sure. Earth day. That sounds like a great idea."

I had no idea when Earth Day was this year . . . and I was hoping Imani didn't either.

And then one afternoon after school Imani and I decided to watch the Ellen DeGeneres show and lo and behold, Ellen spilled the news.

"Happy Earth Day" she announced as she gave everyone in the audience an abundance of green gifts.

"NO!!!" I wanted to shout. It was rainy and cold outside my window and I certainly didn't feel like schlepping around picking up trash.

Maybe, just maybe, Imani had been daydreaming and didn't hear Ellen's announcement.

"Mom! Did you hear Ellen!  Remember we are going to pick up trash on Earth Day!" Imani said with enthusiasm.

"Oh honey, Mommy is exhausted and it's so rainy and cold.  Maybe Jason will pick up trash with you when he gets home."

I'm a terrible mother. I couldn't believe I was bailing on the trash pick up promise.

"Well could you do it with me another day?" Imani asked.

"Definitely. I promise when the weather is nicer, we will pick up trash together" I said with certainty.

Of course Jason pulled through for me and picked up trash with Imani on the cold and rainy Earth Day 2011.

But I wasn't off the hook.  This weekend, the weather was nice and guess what Imani reminded me I had promised I would do?

I put Noah in the Moby wrap (which he LOVES btw.  For those of you with newborns, I highly recommend them . . . Noah falls asleep in less than five minutes when he's in the Moby), put on my rain boots because it was so muddy, Imani grabbed a bucket and we were off to pick up garbage.

I tried to convince her that we could just pick up trash in our own yard, but she insisted we needed to clean the neighborhood.

"I want people who drive through to know that this is a clean community" she explained.  I couldn't believe her determination to clean the sidewalks, yards of apartments and other people's yards. 

We found lots of trash and even when I told Imani something was too gross to pick up, she picked it up anyway . . . like a dirty sock.

At the end of our walk, we had half a bucket of trash and the neighborhood did look cleaner. I felt good that I had finally fulfilled my promise, but I felt even better that my child found joy in cleaning the Earth.  She could be inside glued to the TV or Wii, but instead she wanted to pick up trash.

Oh and we forgot our gloves . .  but don't worry. We washed our hands when we got home.   

Before she went to bed that night Imani said "Thanks for picking up trash with me mom.  Wasn't it fun?  Maybe we could do it again sometime."

Yes . . . maybe we will.


  1. Stephenie,

    I love Imani! Although I've never met her, she is dear to me. She has an old soul, big heart and wonderful parents. You look great! Noah didn't seem to mind garbage picking one bit.

    Time does go by quickly. When I was working I held myself to a tighter schedule and everything got done. When I wasn't working there was always tomorrow to get it done. Came to the conclusion that DIY projects and housework will always need doing but I am a human BEING not a human DOING!

    Your Friend,

    Your Friend,

  2. What a gorgeous story Stephenie. And that girl of yours...she's one in a million :)

  3. I remember a little "dirty girty" girl that grew up and had a child just like herself. ;)

    And the love continues on generation after generation.

    I also remember that grown up, little girl, wanting to hunt through discusting junk and trash at junk yards never stopping to think of the germs....LOL

    I love this story you psoted, I truly do and I Love you!

  4. Stephanie: This is a wonderful "story" and oh what a daughter you have!
    As you know, it is oh so hard when they are little: the time quite literally flies away! You are lucky indeed though to have such a wonderful family...


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