I was on my way to work this morning and there was a sign on those highway blinky pads that read “HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE. KEEP YOUR GAS TANK FULL.” Which read a lot like C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y to me, this sign being on the highway of a city booming with petrochemical and drilling and exploration companies. One of which I work for.

Back when I was a kid – and I will say that the time that’s passed since then is shorter in my head than on a calculator – my mom used to tell me that every ‘bad’ thing I did would result in a Black Dot On My Heart. She was Catholic, after all. And since I was too afraid to go into a confessional and tell my priest that I had vandalized a car or poured salt onto a yard or other junior high experiences, I read up on the Protestant faith and learned about forgiveness. And I didn’t even have to recite such number of Hail Mary’s or Act of Contritions or what have you.

My understanding of forgiveness and faith are a little deeper now. A little. But I try to even out my Black Dots – like my carbon footprint – with Good Deeds, like recycling cans and plastic and cardboard boxes. But if I was thinking my slate was anywhere near half clean, boy was I wrong!

By virtue of parenting, I belong to a couple groups in my area where the adults bounce ideas off one another, provide warnings or accolades about products, opinions about schools and the like. And it was on these boards that I discovered how very far removed I am from Taking Care Of The Earth or even Doing What Is Best For My Children.

Take water. Seriously? I think the water in the bottles is the same as the water from the tap. The labels say otherwise, some people agree, but I’m not sure drinking bottled water is necessarily better. I mean really, all those decreased chemicals we put in our bodies is made up for with what we toss onto the earth. But from the very first nanny we hired, we were strictly informed that we should not use tap water with the babies’ formula because their bellies were just brand new and they shouldn’t be subjected to such evil.

And the bottles. Watch out for BPA!! LORD HAVE MERCY don’t use platic bottles! Lots and lots of conversation and talk about the estrogen imitating chemical and how it can prevent your offspring from ever having offspring of their own. And yet I was fed with plastic bottles and I conceived.

Maybe that was part of the problem – that I wasn’t breastfed. Because OH MY GOD if you don’t breastfeed you are deliberately choosing for your children to have lower IQ’s and the ability to handle rejection when they are fourteen.

And when you want to give them a quick meal in their youth, DON’T FEED THEM RAVIOLI because the cans you find on grocery store shelves are teeming with BPA and other things that will certainly stunt our brain development. Want to make it fresh, instead? You CAN’T! Because of the tomatoes! HOLY SHIT, THE TOMATOES! I actually read a post/response from a neighborhood mom who buys non-BPA packaged tomato paste for $10 for 24oz. I am sure the tomatoes are plucked directly from God’s garden. Only to find out it’s the JALAPEÑOS! THE DAMN JALAPEÑOS!

Then there was the mom who bought milk in TetraPaks from South America and Australia. Or the folks who don’t use certain dry cleaners because they use perc or CO2. I don’t even know what some of this stuff is!

Suddenly, putting cans and plastic into my green recycle bin that gets picked up twice a month is so insignificant. Even though something is more than nothing. I thought all the reading I felt I had to do before giving birth was a lot of material. But in terms of educating myself about products/schools/environmental factors, I have this perpetual feeling of having to take a final exam tomorrow morning, and I just now got the textbook.