It is a cold morning after a huge snowfall. I have an early meeting with a potential funder for the social justice organization I work for, but my kid is putting up a fuss. I am late and impatient and not looking forward to the trek across the neighbourhood to drop him off. Once outside, my son waves at a girl on the sidewalk. It turns out they know each other from daycare. She and her dads live right next door. They also have a car and give us a lift. The burden of isolation and responsibility for a little human being lift.
Having a child in Montréal has pushed me out of my bubble and expanded my community. I used to keep to myself, but now I make a point to introduce myself to neighbours so that I feel more secure and know who I can turn to if I need help. I have met and become friends with folks I would not have known otherwise and this has expanded my understanding of social justice as I discover new viewpoints and am united with people who care so very deeply about their children.
Winter can be isolating and exhausting, especially with the extra difficulty getting around, which is exponentially increased with children. Living without a partner or roommates can be even tougher. We get through winter by making sure we visit often with friends. I invite folks over for dinner during the week. On the weekends, instead of short visits, it is great to spend the whole day hanging out with another family. It’s also super fun to do sleepovers with kids and parents! I know of a collective of three families who set up a great winter survival technique: every Tuesday one family hosts and provides dinner, rotating through the three of them.
There are times when my universe is necessarily focused on just my child, family, and sustaining myself. Then life shifts and I have energy for new work. This year it is creating a new alternative public school in our neighbourhood. A group of parents got together, dreamed big, did our research, pooled our skills and contacts, and now it looks like my kid and hundreds more after him will benefit from child-directed, social justice–infused, community-supported education. More than anything I have ever done, being a parent brings home how everyday interactions and choices are the main tool I have for creating the world I want.