Monday, July 11, 2011

We've come a long way, baby

Time Spent Living In...

Scarborough, ON: 19 years

St. Catharines, ON: 3 years

Trois-Pistoles, QC: 5 weeks

Toronto, ON: 2 years

Huntsville, ON: 6 months

Ottawa, ON: 5 years

Number of Times I Have Moved House: 12 (not including the back and forths from St. Catharines and home again for summers off)

Hours I Have Spent on the Road:  Countless

Carbon Emissions: Embarassingly high

When the word "community" comes to mind, many of us remember the various places in which we have resided. Some we remember with fondness, and others we could soon forget.

Most of us live in urbanized areas where we work and raise families, and often this is at a distance from our own parents and extended family. The reasons are varied and familiar - it is easier to travel now as compared to 100 years ago; it is cheap to travel (for most of us); and our society seems to encourage youth to "discover their world" via foreign jobs or volunteer work. We are required to go where employment can be found, and many of us end up rooted in a community that is thousands of kilometers away from where we were born.

Our globalized world has opened up countless new opportunities for growth. Some would argue that it has also done a good job at chipping away at the foundation of community - our economic, social, cultural and political landscape.

This is most apparent (to me) in the lives of North American women. I am one of many mothers who lives at a distance from close family members. Yes, I live in a "community" as it is so defined, with all the modern conveniences at my fingertips. I have a large house with ample green space; I have two good jobs that both bring in enough dough to keep up mortgage payments; I am close to public transportation, malls, and shops; I have adequate health care; and I have access to clean water and food.

What is perhaps missing from this picture is a strong emotional connection to other people in my community. Oh, of course we have friends and some family here (on my hubby's side). But when it comes down to it, I probably wouldn't call any of these people after a rough day, when the only thing I want to do is click my heels and be in another place and time. I have no one to ask to come over at a moment's notice to watch the little one while I try and finish up some work, or run an errand. And I am certainly alone in many of our days adventures of cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

Of course, this is entirely my fault because I moved away from home in the first place and had a child here, but that doesn't mean that something shouldn't be done to remedy the problem. I completely understand that I will never live in an African village where I spend my days toiling with the local women (and nor do I wish I were there, as I love my country and my society). However, this does not mean that I need to abandon the idea of a close-knit community that may afford me with some of the benefits of a communal life.

This is not the 1960s and I cannot (and choose not) to run off to a commune somewhere, in hopes for a better life. I do realize that the grass is always greener on the other side, and that communities with close ties have their own set of problems. But I am ready to contemplate how to redefine my sense of community - one that is conducive to mothering a family. We could choose to stop where we are with one child, and most likely things would get easier as time goes on. But for a society to continue to grow and prosper, women must feel well supported in their choice to have multiple children.

Join me this week in a discussion on community; how it is defined, where we fall short, and how to envision a healthier community.

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1 comment:

  1. I can relate to what you are conveying here. Having been a military brat my family moved around a lot, every 2-4 years actually! We've lived in several countries, in very different communities and now face a similar challenge. My husband is the complete opposite, born and raised in Ottawa. Sometimes I am jealous of his deep roots here, but I would never trade up my traveling experiences! Sometimes I wonder if finding a sense of community is harder when you don't really have a "home town"?


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