Right about when the clinic physician helped me up off the floor, after she confirmed I was pregnant, so began the nine months of these unforgettable comments:
“You will sacrifice more than you ever thought was possible.”
“This will not only change your life but your perspective more so.”
“Get ready to make decisions you never thought you’d make.”
All of these side comments left me defiant. Me? Change? Right. I will find a way to stay me, stay the course of my dreams; this is not going to change me. I won’t let this define me. That was the mantra playing in my head while everyone else around me spouted off endless repetitious renditions of the above comments. You see, for me change had always been a bad thing. Ever since I was old enough to realize that life was change, my mind was made up to fight against it – always. And so, this is who I became and at the time of my new pregnancy it was difficult, to say the least, to emotionally handle the fact that not only was change imminent but it was change that was taking place inside of me – a place I was supposed to have full control and the final say. I was smart enough to not let myself think negatively because I knew I had the power to affect my pregnancy for the worse. I had limitless evidence that my best talent was self-sabotage but this was the first time I had no choice but to embrace change and positivity. I did, and now I have a beautiful and perfect fifteen-month-old son. But I digress … I am getting off track, which feels odd because I didn’t think I knew where this post was going. Let’s follow this silver fox of mental calamity, shall we?!
Anyway, who would have thought that all those pesky comments that used to go in one of my ears and – by way of a hard kick to the arse – out the other. Who knew they would actually come to pass as some of the most profound and applicable pieces of advice. I don’t need to pontificate on these points here because the majority of my readers are parents themselves. Of course our perspectives shift, of course there is sacrifice, and of course we change … I am here to tell you the simple truth. The more you fight the change taking place within you, the more pain you are subjecting yourself to in the long run.
I think my parents’ style of parenting was ingenious. I have very rarely been told “No.” No, you can’t do that, or even I don’t think that is a good idea. Both my mom and dad tolerated all my naiveté on every level in order to allow me to find my own way or learn lessons in my own time, many of which are only now coming to fruition. Apparently life is change and life-long learning is actually a thing.
I can’t really appreciate the amount of patience it took on their part when they were faced with my harrowing childhood crusade: my perceived misery that I blamed on the move from Vancouver to Kelowna when I was seven years old. I was not yet old enough to understand why we moved but old enough to figure out that blaming and hating change was easier than simply adjusting to it.
So, from seven years old through elementary school, high school and my entire adolescence, I told myself my parents were to blame for my lot in life and I would have been better off in Vancouver and that I would have turned out better if we had never moved. It was easy; it was convenient, and in the end it was a survival tactic … but it was just wrong. Dead wrong; however, it remained a lesson I would learn not then but in time. And maybe that is how my parents tolerated me all those years, because they knew it was just my way. I can’t be told. I have to learn all on my own.
I grew up never proud to say my hometown was Kelowna. I saw no value in it. Even worse, I thought If you were “small town”, you were nobody at all. But somehow amongst all the poisonous negativity I lived on I managed to have a fulfilling and happy childhood though I never could admit it. I couldn’t admit it because I didn’t know it.
Now I am twenty-seven living in my dream location of North Vancouver. I live by the sea, near downtown and near to where I believed my happiness resided when I was young and missing it. I finally achieved it all – everything childhood Kelsey ever wanted – I was a West Coaster, a wannabe career woman, going to give my future kids what I never got the chance to have and for a while I was happy.
When I had my little man, cliché as it is to say, everything had changed.
In Vancouver I was trying so hard to “be me” I wasn’t being me at all. The birth of my son didn’t just change me, he made me honest. He stripped me of all my bullshit and pretense and I was just myself again. Turns out? I am a little less West Coast than is needed to live out here. I am not sushi and yoga – I am apple orchards and BBQ’s. I am not big city symphony and power suits – I am community musical theatre and sweatshirts. I don’t care about Kombucha, or the latest Lululemon gear or whatever else is apparently inherently Vancouver essential.
It is difficult to come to the realization that everything you thought you wanted all your life turns out to be a place you don’t actually belong.
In Kelowna, I have more things that I think would enrich my son’s life than all Vancouver’s culture could ever hope to extend. Vancouver swallows up our little life, it’s too easy to get lost in the shuffle out here … and if Kelowna could give a child like me – so hell bent on being miserable – happiness and memories like the ones I keep then I have to ask myself, what am I doing here?
For too long I’ve always felt torn between two places. And maybe I’ll always be. Vancouver has humbled me and beaten me down emotionally both from idolizing it and from finally living in it. It’s enough already. To build a life out here would mean struggle and sacrifice far beyond the kind of sacrifice you endure to have children. I am no longer that little girl wondering who I would have been if we never moved away. I am the person I was meant to be. Just like my mother and fucking proud to be. I think my parents made the braver choice when they started over and there isn’t a part of me that doesn’t wish I hadn’t punished them by blaming them for the misery I made myself believe surrounded me. It is not until now I realize that maybe I wasn’t the only one possibly missing or mourning an old life … my parents had what we have now. They had family, friends and jobs … beloved attachments that wouldn’t be easy to lose or just become less important when they choose to migrate to Kelowna. That decision to move our family wasn’t easy and I made it even more difficult for my parents in dealing with it the way I chose. In truth, what they gave me was two homes to love. Then, they gave me the freedom to experience both of them and now I have the same responsibility to choose what is best for my family. I feel like now I know where I belong and it isn’t here. And it never was.
Home is where the heart is and my torn-between-two-places-heart perhaps realizes it was always in the Okanagan. So, this is the pitch I’ll use when I am finally home and trying to get a gig writing for Okanagan Life magazine. A column called, “Lived it and learned it – Just love where you’re from, knucklehead”.