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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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