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On Parenthood: Possibility

by - Sunday, March 07, 2010

This is a house in my neighbourhood.

And this is the elementary school at the end of my street.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, grew up in that house and attended that school. And one day, my little Chloe will attend that school too.

I have no illusions that Chloe will grow up to be Prime Minister, but finding out those interesting facts about my 'hood really made me stop in my tracks. If some boy can grow up in the same place I am raising my child and become the leader of our country... what can my little girl grow up to be?

As a child, my parents instilled in me the belief that I could do and become anything I wanted to be, no matter my race, sex, height (or lack thereof!), age, or colour. I didn't realize it at the time, but my parents gave me so many experiences and exposed me to many things, just to show me that the world was indeed my oyster. I have fond memories of my dad piling up the neighbourhood kids in our station wagon and taking us to the Lions Club swimming pool and asking for the Family rate for this mis-matched gaggle of children. And our summer barbeques where we would roast a whole pig in a pit in our backyard, my uncles explaining the delicacy of crispy pig skin to our curious neighbours. Or how we would dress up in our finest clothes and go to watch the symphony at Roy Thompson Hall (and I would notice at intermission that we were the only immigrant family about. This was the 1970's afterall). I asked my dad once why we did all those things, why my parents seemed to go out of their way to expose us to so many varied and different experiences, and he said "Because I never wanted you to grow up thinking you couldn't do those things."

Finding out about the Prime Minister brought me back to that thought. These days, the things Chloe can't do are becoming more a part of my parenting her... don't touch this, don't eat that, don't climb there, hold on, be careful, be safe. Its a natural instinct to want to protect your child, but I was reminded that sometimes I need to push her and support her, beyond my own comfort zone.

Chloe's personality is really starting to shine through. She is a social butterfly in her music and swimming classes, always smiling at the sight of other babies, wanting to touch them and play with them. She is loud and happy, clapping, splashing, making noise! And so much energy and curiousity she has; I am forever chasing after her, trying to get her to pay attention or sit still but most often letting her explore and crawl about. I see other mothers giving me that look, feeling so lucky that they have a quiet docile baby and not this rambunctious lively handful. In a word, Chloe is so different from me as a child :) And that is the challenge. I don't want to constrain my child and limit her experience of the world because of my own inhibitions. I don't want my fears to become her fears, by default.

I need to believe that yes, my daughter could become Prime Minister. That is a possibility. The little boy down the street taught me that. And as her mother, her first teacher, and her greatest nurturer, my role is to instill that belief in her too. We give our children many gifts, but the most wonderful of these is opportunity.

Go exploring, Chloe-belle. I'll be here to catch you if you fall.

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17 comments

  1. Beautiful. It's so nice that you posted this today. I was in my son's gymnastic class today and he grabbed the rings and just started swinging. Something I had never seen him do before and it kind of shocked me that he could DO that, I didn't TEACH him that, but he could do it anyway. It's so wonderful and unsettling to discover these things isn't it?

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  2. Wonderful, your parents were very wise! Janell

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  3. Lovely - what a wonderful way of looking at parenting.

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  4. My kids will also go to that school someday, just around the corner from us! I recall hearing that Stephen Harper grew up on Bessborough.

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  5. glowmakeup8:47 AM

    I admire your ability to so deeply reflect on your own actions, and how they affect your daughter. I think Chloe is a very lucky little girl to have a mother who will continue to instill such an incredible sense of adventure mixed with opportunity. She'll thank you, as you are grateful to your parents for the experiences they gave you. Kudos!

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  6. That's really cool!

    And what a sweet post. I am learning to let my son explore outside of my comfort zone as well. It's hard! But I am greatful that he is pushing me, too.

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  7. So true! I was at a fundraiser luncheon on Sunday, and many of the award recipients were amazing women and teens that have done so much with so little, or in such a short time. The one that sticks in my head, and probably always will, is the teen who started a school in Africa by the time she was fifteen. She lives just up the hill from where I grew up! I bet her parents attitude had everything to do with that moving forward. Makes you think about how much we can encourage in our children, and how far that encouragement can take them.

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  8. She is just DARLING, and your neighborhood is gorgeous!

    This post is really very inspiring.

    Kelly

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  9. OK, I'm sitting at work with tears in my eyes- this is the sweetest post ever!

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  10. That is such a positive attitude to take - Chloe will go far with parents like you.

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  11. i have kinda been in the same frame of mind. I remember growing up in Canada and things seemed so much simplier. My parents didn't have to worry about all the dangers that exist in the world today. They allowed us to venture out in the world and discover it for ourselves. I try not to hover over my little guy too much, at 8.5 months I like to sit back and watch him play on the floor exploring all his toys and wonder what he's thinking. I want to give him all I can but at the same time I want him to learn to appreciate the simple things and the beauty around him beyond the material things.

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  12. Jennifer, what you wrote is just beautiful... I too will someday have children and I hope to instill this same message to them. I know at times I hold myself back from trying things out of fear, and one day I too hope I can teach my own children to never let fear hold them back, and to try any and everything their hearts and passions desire! Chloe is one special lucky little girl to have such a great Mommy!!

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  13. A lucky girl in Toronto3:36 PM

    We live on Bessborough Dr. too, just down the street from where Harper grew up (although, he moved to Calgary by the time he was in highschool), so I guess we're practically neighbours! We just moved in last August and love the neighbourhood. It's nice to have a renovating "friend" in the neighbourhood, even though we've never met!

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  14. A lucky girl - wait, aren't you going to be on Sarah 101 soon? So you you mean Sarah will be in my neighbourhood?? Agh! I will be taking Chloe for walks on Bessborough daily then... to get some sun... And to Sarah stalk, lol! Let me know if you ever want to meet for coffee :). Ramblingrenovators@gmail.com

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  15. When Chloe becomes PM she’ll be proud to be from Leaside & won’t try to pretend she’s from Calgary!

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  16. I loved this post, I missed it when you first wrote it.

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  17. Katie Colastic11:17 AM

    Hi Jen - Love love love this - so well put...I'm only now starting to explore your beautiful writings...

    Katie Colastic (hint your friend from the Michael Damian days :)

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