Summer

I was born at the end of August, so I rarely had a big birthday party as a child. Most of my friends were often on vacation when I had my birthday, so there wasn’t much point to throwing a party. I also was something of a loner as a kid, so maybe I wouldn’t have had anyone to invite anyhow? My memory on this is foggy, which maybe isn’t a bad thing. When I think of what I want for my children, and how it pains me to think that my outgoing, social butterfly of a daughter might not have friends or might not be liked, it makes me wonder how my personality affected my parents and their hopes and dreams for me.

But that’s not just tied to summer, that’s just my baggage. Summer has always been my favourite season, and I do enjoy the way it is in Ottawa. The evenings are usually warm enough that you can stay out in shirt sleeves and shorts or pants, daylight lasts until nearly 9 p.m., which means evening walks are easy to do, and it’s just so emotionally uplifting to be outside in the sun. I love the way my skin smells after I’ve been out in the sun, even for a brief period, and on the rare occasions I do a bit of tanning, I like how that looks, as well.

I do hate the mosquitos and some of the other bugs that show up in the summer months: earwigs on the humid days and if there’s no air conditioning; mayflies at the gas stations (not sure why, but it’s a thing); June bugs on the screen doors in July or August; and mosquitos, always the mosquitos. But they’re a small trade-off for the heat and the humidity, and just getting to enjoy being outside.

This year I’ve also started to take advantage of something that’s an unthought-of tradition in parenting; drinking outdoors with the neighbours while watching the kids. Maybe that’s more of a Maritime tradition, but I admit I’ve been enjoying it. I’m not sure what about it appeals to me, though maybe it’s just getting to see my kids playing and having fun and enjoying themselves with each other and the neighbour kids. Or maybe it’s just that I enjoy socially-acceptable drinking, and doing it with company is even more enjoyable.

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City (not my best work here)

I have lived in the same city for most of my life. We came here when I was a little one (16 months old), and my parents have lived in the same house in the suburbs ever since.

 

Through university, I lived at home, and then moved into a shitty apartment downtown once I started working. I moved into a second, better, apartment nearly a year later, and lived there for three years until I moved in with my now-husband, back in the suburbs.

I’ve been at the same office for nearly eight years, and a girl I went to elementary school with for about a minute started here a few months ago. We ran into one another, and she sort of laughingly asked me if I still lived in the suburbs where we both lived back in the day. I explained that no, I was one surburb over now – not exactly a grand achievement, on paper – and it definitely felt to me like she thought less of me because I hadn’t gone off and lived somewhere grand for a period of time.

And sure, the city where I live is often referred to as “the city that fun forgot” (if google that, it’s pretty easy to figure out where we are, especially after John Oliver reported on our Ashley Madison scandal not too long ago). And while there are things I dislike about here – our winters, for example – I’ve done fairly well here. I have a good job, I have a good husband, a good home, two great children, family and friends…

There are pluses to my city, too. I left my purse at a Starbucks when I was pregnant with my son, and when I came back to grab it, it was still there, completely intact — the gentleman who found it simply put it up higher so I’d see it again. We’re generally pretty polite and friendly to one another, and I feel safe just about everywhere in my city, regardless of the time of day or night.

The city is medium-sized, which makes it easy enough to navigate, and there are usually multiple options for things. If a movie isn’t playing at a good time at one movie theatre, chances are it’s playing at another. A book isn’t in stock at this Chapters? There’s a good chance another one has it. Coffee stores are prevalent, there are lots of good restaurant options, we have really lovely walking trails, lots of great festivals, activities for the kids…

And while I do have a longish commute to get to my job, it’s not nearly as bad as some people do. And our transit system is pretty reasonable, so I can take the bus to and from work. I have a backyard my kids can play in, and space to get away from everyone if they’re driving me crazy.

Maybe it’s not the most exciting city, but it’s where I call home.

Open

Open doors, open arms, open thoughts, open hearts, open to challenging one’s ideas and ideals, open to new experiences, open to new ideas, open to new lifestyles and ways of living and ways of being.

It’s hard. Of course it’s hard; opening one’s mind to new anything is hard. Challenging your firmly-held beliefs is hard.

I had a conversation with some coworkers yesterday about how difficult it can be for someone to change their way of thinking when it comes from things their parents believe/have said/think. They didn’t think it could be, because they were able to look at the world around them when went to university or got older and were able to pick and choose their new ideas and ideals.

But I think it’s simplistic to say that it is as easy as they perceive it was. Not everyone has that willingness to challenge themselves, and not everyone is open to having their ideas changed.

I’m trying to teach my daughter and eventually my son to be open to other people being different, to feeling differently, to holding different beliefs and being respectful of those differences, but it’s hard. I fight with myself when I feel like I’m saying something that goes against what I’m trying to teach, and it keeps coming back to the idea that I want my children to be better than me. I want them to be smarter, to have more friends, to be more open and accepting of other people, and I want them to have happier lives. Not that mine is unhappy, but I just don’t want them to make my mistakes.

Which I recognize is idealistic of me; of course they’re going to make mistakes. Of course bad things are going to happen – that’s what life is all about. But I guess I just want them to know that their mistakes do not define them, they do not destroy them, and they most definitely do not destroy our relationship with them.

I am open to the idea that they will make mistakes and they will challenge me in ways I can’t even begin to image, but it’s hard to know and especially to accept that bad things will happen that I cannot prevent.

The best I can do is prepare them and equip them with the tools to take on those bad things, and I have to be open to the fact that I will still fall short.

But’s the best I’ve got.