It was the balloon that caught me eye.
We were walking to look at Christmas lights but a single balloon on an unlit house bobbed in the wind and pulled my thoughts with it. I glanced at the house. I knew it well. It was just around the corner from my own home. I'd often passed it in the days when my son's school was close enough to walk to.
At this time of year, the house usually boasted a single strand of LED lights - and that only to conform to the over-the-top holiday displays of the neighborhood. The front yard was lawnless and had been as long as I could remember. The porch light was rarely lit. Solar panels were slathered across the roof and environmental messages across the Priuses' (yes, plural) bumpers.
I'd met the couple that lived there once - at a City Council meeting to support residential pick up of organics. They were cute, vegan, and childless. Everything a dream green couple should be.
But the balloon swaying against the cold dark sky negated that last trait. "It's a Boy!" it proclaimed proudly.
There is always much discussion about population control in environmental circles. About the impact of bringing another American - complete with his or her gargantuan footprint - into the world. About how true environmentalists don't procreate.
I have to admit that, despite having my own, I have often wondered how green it is to have children. I've seen first hand the impact. The diapers. The sippy cups. The clothes. The plastic toys. The gasoline sucked up en route to various after school activities. Sure, you can shrink that footprint but you cannot cut it completely. Giving birth to any Westerner is rough on the planet.
But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it.
Because the world needs more green moms (and dads). The world needs an army of parents demanding organic and locally grown food, handmade toys that kids will play with, clothes made from reclaimed fabric and non-toxic body care products. The world needs people will darn tiny socks, volunteer in classrooms and lead recycling drives. People who will advocate for sustainable school lunches, lead a generation toward greener goodie bags and create a culture predicated on conscience not consumption.
We all benefit from the hyperdrive that a parent has. The desperate desire to combat climate change, the tireless typing of letters to senators, and the hope-filled march toward a more sustainable existence. Most of which is triggered by a mere glance at your child.
That doesn't mean that every tree-hugging one of us should have a baby. Far from it. But it does mean that having one does not make you less of an environmentalist. It just makes you more of a mom.
And the world needs more green moms.