Dave, o strapping specimen of courage that he is, is outside cleaning the shed.

his parents were here for the past couple of days, looking after O while our sitter’s camping with her own family, visiting with us, and generally just being the wickedly energetic, capable, helpful people they always are. seriously. i’ve won the in-law lottery. envy me at will.

now, every time Dave’s parents are here, our shed – better known as the dusty hellhole stacked high with open paint cans and precarious bladed items, or where good times go to die – gets a bit of a pick-me-up and cleanout that we just never seem to have time for. or rather, that Dave never seems to have time for…i’m too overwhelmed by the shed to acknowledge it, except to retrieve the lawnmower occasionally. the shed turns me into a flailing OCD sissy in thirty seconds flat, and then i just stand there, frozen, looking nervous and traumatized. i don’t have the literacies to be useful in that environment, seeing as in my home changing a lightbulb was a major structural accomplishment…and i go into a panic every time i get inside those four walls and look around at the baffling detritus and unknown tools that crowd it.

this shames me a little. but the shed, i swear, is scary.

luckily, since O was born, i am only called on to help in there when he’s sleeping. because it is clearly – with nails scattered around the floor, and old exposed wires, and an inch of sawdust on everything – not a childsafe environment.

i wish the rest of the world were as clearcut.

because the truth is, i get that same deer-in-headlights feeling of cluelessness and overload every time i try to weigh whether a food or a toy is safe for my child, or whether a patch of grass is a playspace or a toxic chemical dump.  i do try.  i read stuff.  it conflicts.  and so i’m constantly trying to piece together pictures that make sense, based on sources that appear reliable, and standards that i like to hope are sufficient and current and grounded in evidence, not just best-guesses like my own.  but it’s pretty boggling…and hey, i’m a highly literate person with a background in research.  and still, the whole process makes me feeling like i’m standing in the shed, overwhelmed and possessed of a powerful urge to flee.

Mommy Blogs Toronto is, with the BlogHers Act Canadian initiative, going to try to do something about this craziness with chemicals and global capitalism and labelling and standards.  with a chorus of blogs around the country in support, they’re going to be talking to NGOs and charities, and forming partnerships aimed at trying to eliminate/reduce harmful chemicals in food and retail products…and then presumably they’ll get back to us about things we can do.  which is cool…really, more than cool.

i hope they hurry.  ’cause on this issue, which matters to me, i still feel confused and unsure of my footing, of how to make any difference on my own, or even how to make good judgements.  so…i’m grateful to them for taking the lead, and i will lend my voice and hands however i can.

and hopefully stop feeling so stunned by all these questions of soy vs. dairy, food additives, neighbourhood pesticides, and whether it’s possible or reasonable to avoid buying children’s items from China altogether in the process.

’cause it’s my figurative shed, this stuff, and it’s hurting my head.