Caroline Hadley is a love song dedicated to babies and children, mothers, grandmothers and any girl who feels alone and hopeless. Caroline Hadley was a strong woman who valued her community, her faith, her friends and her family. She was my great-grandmother, and I am her namesake.
A number of years ago, I sat at my desk, tears streaming down my face as I watched a video of my now-friend, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group delivering his presentation entitled, “Ten Americans”.
I was devastated. Babies coming into this world pre-polluted! 300 industrial chemicals including DDT in their blood some 30 years after it was banned. As a mother of two boys, the worry and guilt descended upon me. What had I done to protect them in the one place they should have been nurtured and safe, the womb? Then once my boys were born, did I feed them, bathe them and surround them with harmful chemicals?
I spent the next eight years working to educate myself and other women about when to spend the extra for organic fruits and veggies. I taught mothers and grandmothers how to read labels to avoid hormone disruptors and known carcinogens in everything from our shampoos to the fabric on baby strollers.
I started looking at the apparel industry, which led me to understand living wages, child labor and how we are quick to outsource our pollution. I cried once more when I saw a photo of small children playing in a runoff pond full of agricultural chemicals in India. Did people not realize that when they bought 3 T-shirts for $5 that someone across the globe was subsidizing them?
I studied with Al Gore through the Climate Reality Project and became a certified Climate Leader to further my goal of helping consumers understand the connection between our health and that of the environment.
Then in the midst of it all, I lost my mother suddenly. I became untethered. My father had abandoned us when I was eight. I had never truly dealt with my anger and pain surrounding that loss. Losing Mom made me acutely aware of what I had gone through as a girl and what other girls go through invisibly every day.
So now what? My younger son who is now a young man once told me, “You know what your problem is? You care too much!” He was right. I care about your babies and children. I care about the environment. I care about animals. I care about girls and women, who have been abandoned, marginalized, abused and neglected.
Through it all, I cling to hope, sometimes by my fingertips. Love, beauty and nature surround us every day. I can’t un-see or un-know the many problems of the world. However, I can share what I know in hope that others may be helped.