So if you’ve been keeping track of my #freshstart in Toronto, then you are aware of the fact that I am right now living with my folks.
When I made the decision to move in with them as part of my relocation, it was with two intentions.
Not that we ever lost touch with me living just four hours away by car in Ottawa for the last 13 years, just that I recognized that we had an opportunity to renovate our existing relationships now that I was going to be living in the same city as them again.
2) Be smart with my money.
Having sold first a house, then a condo all within a year, I thought it wise not to jump into the property market in Toronto until I had a better sense of what kind of life I wanted here / where in the city I wanted to live it.
Lucky me, they agreed with both of these objectives. And, lucky me again, during the past six months of living here I believe both intentions have been fairly well realized. Not to mention that despite some frustrations on both sides around how to share time in the kitchen, for the most part we’ve been enjoying each other’s company.
Well, except for the time last week when my dad basically said he can’t wait for me to move out.
This after I told him it was cold in my room at night, and then hot in the morning, and he responded by saying that there must be something wrong with my brain because that was impossible.
Before you get too offended on my behalf, know that I was smiling through both of these exchanges. And that I gave him a hug, told him I loved him too, and thanked him for letting me stay with him while I navigate my #freshstart.
I found myself telling this story to my friend NE earlier this week when she asked me how living with my folks was going over our lunch date. “Good,” I said. “Really good.” I explained that while the old me would have been offended by my Dad saying these things, the new me, the me who went away and came back, has an evolved understanding of why he comes out with things like this.
Four words: Bend It Like Beckham.
More specifically, the extras scene on the DVD where Director Gurinda Chadha cooks Aloo Gobi with her mom and aunty looking on in the background. Some of what they have to say about her cooking is nice . . . but there’s also a lot of: “No, not like that.” “If you want to do it, do it nicely.” And my favourite, at minute 11, when her Mom basically takes over the cooking! (You can watch the scene by clicking here if you’re interested.)
NE and I are both kids of immigrants. Sorry to stereotype, but I think there’s a unique dynamic between immigrant parents and their Canadian born / raised kids. It can go a few ways, but one common theme is pressure. Pressure to succeed. To make the sacrifices of immigration worth it. To be a good Canadian at the same time as being a good [insert country of origin] too.
We agreed that in this dynamic, being told “you’re doing it wrong” can be a frequently heard statement. The truth is, as the first generation, there is no real definition of “right.”
Not to suggest we never received encouragement or praise. For as certain as they are that we sliced the onion too thickly for the country of origin dish they are teaching us to make, they also know when we have done something right. When we have made them proud. By doing well at school. Or by finding a good job so that they can stop worrying we’ll face the same financial troubles as they did in getting settled here (my Dad’s current preoccupation with regard to me, fyi).
The challenge for us kids of immigrants is the inconsistency. When you do “this,” I want you to do it like a good Canadian. When you do “that,” be true to our country of origin roots. In the confusion, it can be easy to feel like you’re failing regularly.
That’s why I love Gurinda’s cooking scene. Because instead of letting that pressure dynamic get to her, she chooses to laugh at it. To put her skills on display even if, according to her Mom and aunty, she’s not doing it quite right.
So, yeh. I don’t let conversations like the one I told NE about get to me the way I used to. I am learning to appreciate that often words that hurt in fact come from a place of concern. Of caring. Of wanting success for someone you love.
A day or two after my Dad’s and my conversation, my room became noticeably warmer.
He’d probably still say he can’t wait for me to move out if the topic came up again, but sometime while I wasn’t looking, he put an attachment on the vent in my room to better direct the heat towards my bed.
My dad’s not perfect. And there are definitely things I wish could be different in our relationship. But he’s my dad. And I love him. And I am so glad that one of the silver linings of my moving home has been the opportunity to develop a new level of appreciation for just how much he loves me.