There once was a time when "partying on Canada Day" required no more than a pair of runners, my wallet and a Canada flag for a cape. Activities included bar-hopping in the Market, high-fiving everyone you passed and playing extreme croquet on someone's front lawn (with the ball inevitably rolling into oncoming traffic, of course. Part of the challenge.) Libations consisted of whatever was cheapest; more often than not, bottles of Labatt Bleue or Molson Canadian. We'd converge on Parliament Hill for the fireworks and then get carried along the currents of humanity flooding through downtown until the wee hours of the morning.
Last night, as we wrapped up the long weekend, I remembered those previous celebrations with a wistful smile. Circa 10 years BC (before children), at least. Ah, good times.
Not to say that we didn't have our own good times this year. It's just different when you have kids (so very, VERY different.)
Weeks in advance, family-friendly venues need to be picked out and schedules need to be planned around nap times. The night before, we do a rundown of the necessities: sunblock, hats, snacks, blanket, towels, water bottles, juice boxes, change of clothes, diapers, sweaters (in case it gets cold), band-aids (in case someone gets a blister), crayons and paper (in case someone gets bored). Oh, and a bucket for the back seat. (That one hasn't changed much since university ... I think most cabbies would be thrilled if people brought along their own on Canada Day.)
We spent the afternoon taking in the midway, the petting zoo, the playground, the face painting. We ate soft-serve ice cream and played skee-ball to win gaudy toys worth far less than what we paid, because we love our kids so much. We carried them when they grew tired, wiped snotty noses and asked a million times whether anyone had to go pee. We got sun logged and worn out, but were deliriously happy.
A couple of friends had extended an open invitation to join them on their rooftop patio for dinner, so off we went to their swanky downtown condo. I should have been prepared for the clash of cultures; as we walked in with our brood and various accessories in tow, conversation seemed to grind to a halt. Two dozen pairs of twenty-something eyes turned and looked balefully at us: "Oh great, they brought KIDS. Who brings KIDS to these things?" That's what that look says. I know it, because I used to give it myself.
I think that was when I realized the definition of a "Canada Day party" has changed for me. I had a fleeting moment of embarrassed "I'm That Mom"-ness, but got over it. Our hosts kindly made room for the stroller, shared their Mill Street Organic Lager, engaged in a lively conversation on favourite carnival rides with the Doodle, and fawned over the baby while Hubby and I sat back for a few rare moments to relax.
There was no late-night exodus to the Hill for me, but I didn't mind. Kids tucked in for the night, I watched the fireworks in the park across the street and called it a day. A fabulous, memorable, good-times day.