All You Need is Love?
Many of us grow up expecting that we will graduate from high school, go on to university or college, meet the man/woman of our dreams, get married, and raise a family. We are socialized in North America to believe that this is "normal". Many of us do just this, and to a large degree, do it successfully. Some of us do it less traditionally; we do it in multi-generational, multi-cultural, sole parent, blended families, and all with a measure of success. What keeps us all on the same page are the values we have, not only as parents, but as a community.
As a young adult, I fell in love and believed the next logical step was to raise children. I had babysat, and I had even done some pediatric care at nursing school, so I was certain parenting would be like any other test I'd passed. Oh boy! Who was I kidding? There were no more than a few prenatal classes. There were no semesters, no tests, no practicums, nothing! I was 28 and thought I had the world by the tail. I was ready to share my love and infinite wisdom with a child who never slept, (okay, brief periods in the afternoon), with no useful tools, and then if that wasn't enough, I repeated it, two more times. Throw in a big move and a divorce and it's a wonder any of us made it this far.
Today, my children and I are a decade older. The four of us have been on an incredible journey. A journey that, in no small way, is because of where we live and who we live among. I don't doubt for a minute that life in a different place may have been cheaper, but looking back, there is simply no way I could put a price tag on the experiences we've had in Fernie. I don't know of any other place where I could raise my children like I have here.
One of my first uniquely Fernie memories is of the day when Sylvia was delivering flyers door to door in the rain, advertising her desire to open a music school. I remember visiting one of my neighbors and the two of us deciding to enroll our children. My eldest son was four at the time. I remember fondly, seeing him at his first recital, bow tie in place, "Three Small Bears" being beaten on the keyboard, and me beaming as though no child had ever played to this level at this age! Today, 12 years later, he still takes lessons from Miss Sylvia, and along with his brothers. Her lessons have far surpassed any music curriculum or expectation that I could have dreamed. They have included life lessons, lessons only she could teach them. This doesn't happen everywhere. It happens right here in Fernie because this is where we have all chosen to be, and because we embrace this choice, this is where all things can thrive.
There was the soccer coach, the baseball teams, the swimming tournaments, the BBQs, the weiner roasts on wood-collecting trips, skating on the duck pond, and hiking up Polar Peek on opening day in the summer. There's the teacher who goes the extra mile, the teller at the bank who knows your mom, the daycare worker known only by first-name, and the butcher who will make you a sandwich if you forget your lunch and trusts you to bring the money the next day. There's the doctor who sews up the split on your nose, and the lifeguard who will let you have a life jacket even if you don't have the loonie in your pocket. There's the avalanche course for adults that accepts a sixteen year old for his known strengths and maturity. There's the teacher that will travel halfway around the world so that you and your classmates can experience a different kind of love. I could go on forever with examples.
Bottom line is, when someone asks me how I've "done it" - raised three wonderful children and managed a full-time job (sometimes two) as a single parent, I never hesitate to give credit where it’s due: to my community and my fellow Fernie-ites. It truly does take a community to raise a child. Thank you Fernie!
Author Cathy Price is the Chair of the Fernie Childcare Society. 50-423-3313.