Going Green

**A note: As yesterday was my birthday, I gave myself the day off. That probably means I should’ve posted on Monday, but I was too busy bugging DB to find out what surprises he had in store for me to think of it. Sorry. By way of apology, I tried to make this post super cool. Which probably means I should apologize again. So… sorry.**
Going green is the catchphrase of the day, no denying it. And while I love the environment as much as the next human (hey, air–we breathe it, it’s awesome) I have been feeling some guilt about not making any overt attempts at saving the world before it’s reduced to dust and ashes. I mean sure, we buy at the local farmer’s market, avoid using un-recyclables (except those darn diapers), and even bought an energy efficient furnace (although that was admittedly  more for the green we keep in the bank than the green that grows in our yard), but that’s about it. 

Or so I thought.

The more I pondered it, the more I discovered that I (and many other mothers) are saving the world single-handedly!  For example, how many mothers of young children take above two showers a week?  I know for darn sure I don’t. Those lovely children, always so eager to conserve, do everything in their power to make the decision simple: Do you want that extra half-hour of sleep, or do you want a shower?  Because you’re not getting it while they’re up. So your choice is to A) Look and act like a zombie because 30 minutes of sleep is a lot more than it used to be or B) Smell like a zombie. Unless you remembered deodorant. Given that I still have to chase the small children no matter what I pick, I pick smelling like this…

 …over acting like it.

It also occurred to me that as a mom, despite the dirty diapers, I overall create less waste.  For one thing, I don’t consume nearly as much in the way of clothes and makeup as I used to.  Much as I love clothes (truly) I will probably wear what is in my wardrobe until it practically falls off, because every penny I find to spend on clothes goes to the ever-growing weeds I call my children. And I don’t think buying all those clothes for the girls even counts because I obsess over taking excellent care of what they have so it can be passed down to the next girl. They end up looking like princesses, and I end up looking like a bag lady.

 

Princesses

 

Bag Lady

Being a mom also helps me forget things. I forget to run the dishwasher and I forget to buy those darn diapers and look!  I just saved some water and some space in a landfill!

I do think I might have hit a high point in my going-green ways just last week, in fact. Depending on how you look at it, of course.  About one o’clock in the afternoon I started hearing an odd noise like water was draining, rapidly, out from under the front bathroom.  This was rather distressing as there had been no water running in that bathroom for an hour or so, and made more so by the fact that the furnace/water heater/water softener all live in the room underneath that bathroom. Given these facts, I felt it wise to go and make sure our basement was not rapidly turning into that indoor swimming pool Ladybug covets so.

Much to my relief it wasn’t. But that draining sound wouldn’t stop, so I decided to stick my head in the furnace room and see if my magic mommy powers now extended to suddenly understanding what was wrong with otherwise inexplicable machinery. It was dark in the little closet of a room, so I reached out to turn on the light–only to find the light switch already flipped up.

Ah ha! I thought. Now I can save the world and possibly some electricity!

                                             

So I flipped down the switch, and I was very proud of myself. Who knew how long this heinous waste had been going on?

But it was still dark, and the water was still draining. Since technomancy apparently doesn’t fall under mommy magic and I was too scared of the bugs to go further in without the light on, I wisely decided to wait a few hours and see if the noise didn’t decide to just go away on its own. But it apparently either had nothing better to do or just really liked me, because the next thing I knew it was after eight in the evening and it was still hanging out in my furnace room.

The girls were safely in bed and DB wasn’t expected back from work until midnight. I donned my cape, grabbed my flashlight, and headed outside to see if I could find the water meter.  It would be with the shutoff valve, I reasoned, and if the water was indeed still running the meter would indicate that this was so and I could shut the water off until DB the Technomancer came home and figured out if our crawl space was about to turn into a sinkhole.

Sinkhole = Bad

                                                    See my poor little house down in there?

None of my brilliant planning accounted for the fact that even with a flashlight, I can’t see in the dark. I was starting to feel very green by now, particularly around the gills. Not able to find the shutoff valve, I finally called the calvary in: My little brother.  He assured me that yes, indeed, the shutoff would be with the water meter, but that this was purely academic since I couldn’t find either of them. However, being the generous soul he was, he could come out and look in the furnace room to see if the mysterious draining noise would be afraid of him and go away.

It was.

All he had to do was look at the water softener (the source of the noise, as it turns out) and it stopped dead in its tracks. I was completely stymied as far as figuring out what had just happened, but grateful anyway. I called DB at work to tell him this exciting news, and passed on the odd fact that the digital display on the water softener was blinking as if we had had a power outage and he would need to reprogram the darn thing.

“Hey, you know that light switch down there?” he interrupted me, changing the subject completely.

“Uh… yeah…” I replied, miffed at being cutoff mid-ramble. “It’s useless. The bulb’s burnt out. But the point is–”

“No, no,” DB interrupted again, trying to sound patient. “That switch doesn’t go to the lightbulb. It’s the power to the water softener.”

“…. …. …. …. oh.” Gulp. Oops. “I didn’t know that!” (My most amazing defense, by the way. The one I always go back to when I know I’m a moron.)

“Yes. You did. I told you when we installed the softener.”

“… … … … … ….. ……… oh.” I looked up at my brother, who was listening to my half of the conversation with unabashed interest. “So… what you’re saying is, when I went down earlier and turned off the light switch to save the world and maybe some electricity the softener was in the middle of a rinse and drain cycle and by turning the power off I shut down its ability to stop itself from endlessly dumping water straight through the filter and back into the public waste system?”

Deep breath from DB. “Yeah. That’s about it.”

Me:

                                                            

Brother: “Oh, and Carolynn?  Turning the switch off didn’t really save any electricity.  Since there was no bulb. Just so you know.”

Me:

                                          

                                          

I’m still recovering from the shock. I’ve spent years turning off switches that lead to dead or missing bulbs, thinking I was amazingly, stupendously saving everyone from their gluttonous waste.

Despite the naysayers, however, I’ve decided that I really did save the world, if not electricity. After all, the city water system now has (at best guess) hundreds of gallons of perfectly clean water at their disposal.  No treatment necessary!  And I’ll even pay them for the privileged of taking my perfectly clean, lead-free, better-quality-than-normal-city-water water off of my hands.

A lot.

Shucks. Just all in a day’s work for a super green super mom like me.

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About Carolynn the Dyer

If I've learned one thing by having three children in four years, it's that babies are not, in fact, the best birth control. ... Okay, just kidding. I've really learned that laughter is the only way to survive the wilds of parenthood, and life in general. Also, that it is indeed possible to do dishes, parent, and carry on a conversation at the same time. If that sounds like fun, or just impossible, then come join me on my blog--and join me in the jungle.
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