Who Represents Moms’ Interests in the Gulf?

A Day at the Beach

I don’t generally favor lawsuits as a means of solving things (although they are better than 18th-century duels) but when I see the law firms piling on with class-action suits against BP and the other parties involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, I think about us moms. It’s obvious that hotels and restaurants may lose their primary season andworse, fishermen and shrimpers may even lose their livelihoods. The mounting financial impact is clear and will be litigated for a generation.

But allow a selfish moment here for us moms. We spend countless hours creating experiences (ultimately, memories) for our children. What about the annual gulf beach trip we consider to be an Alabamian’s birthright? What about the gulf culture we love and look forward to sharing with our kids as soon as they are old enough to take their first steps on the sand? The hunting for seashells, the scanning with flashlights for sandcrabs at night, the smell of salt and brine when you hit Highway 98 or 30A? What about the sensation of sand slipping from beneath your feet as a wave rolls back, or the shrimp we expect to eat at the Original Oyster House, Doc’s, the Shrimp Basket or on the porch of our rental? The dolphins we spy leaping out in the ocean? The sandcastles we build, the seagulls we watch pass overhead, the frantic photo we take at dusk with everyone dressed in white – which is, by the way, not easy to coordinate?

I know it’s all still there right now and there’s no good in sounding alarmist when we don’t yet know what will happen. But we moms are keenly aware of what we might lose and how the quality of our experience could be affected. Those who don’t understand may say there are other beaches, but we know better. The Gulf Coast’s sugar white sand is second to none. We may visit other beaches, but to borrow a football metaphor, other beaches are always Away and the Gulf is always Home. Wherever else we may visit an ocean, it is in addition to, not in place of, our Gulf.

I’m full of remorse for ever complaining about having to shake sand from a swimsuit or arm floaties. Did I really sniff derisively at the last kitschy blue/pink/peach/seafoam-painted, seashell-themed, secondhand-furniture condo? I take it all back. I just don’t want to see any of it hurt. Not the joints, like Flora-Bama or Red Bar, nor the refined Caliza.

Maybe there’s no class action remedy for moms who fear losing generations of tradition. But our loss would still be devastating and just as unacceptable.