The choice to move away from my parents and sisters in 2001 was about following my heart. I moved back to Toronto after living in England from age 15 to 30 because it’s where I feel at home.
Fast forward almost another 15 years—I have two children, am separated from their dad, and still living across the pond from my mum and dad.
My family landscape is less than traditional.
My daughters and I see my parents and sisters in intense bursts. We become a part of each others’ lives, live on top of each other and then part for a year or so. Although we talk regularly, they’re not involved in the day-to-day. It’s sad in some ways and likely easier in others. There’s a pressure I feel I’ve escaped of conforming to what my parents would think or say about my parenting and ultimately I may have less conflict overall.
I’m not alone in my journey though. My great friends—some who have children and some who don’t—are my support system. They have become an integral part of my life as a parent, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. It’s said it takes a village to raise a family and man, it’s so true. My village is made up of non-blood relatives. These women think nothing of helping me bury a dead hamster by flashlight to save my kids from seeing their petrified pet. They offer that balance of “yes, I know how that feels” conversation with crisis phases requiring copious amounts of wine. I’ve attracted like-minded sisters who support me and I’m a better parent for it.
Sure I wish my family was around the corner, could come to dance recitals and have the girls for the weekend. But I’m a more resourceful person because they’re not, and my kids have a very rich variety of friends who they can go to with concerns or for a cuddle.
Because my parenting philosophies are different to how I was brought up, I wonder if my more mindful, respectful and empowering edge would be there if I wasn’t where I am.
Maybe. Maybe not.