You know how you see another parent and think, Man, they have this thing figured out! Calm, cute kid, awesome job, out on the town, supportive spouse, killer fashion sense – wish I could get myself together like that!
That’s what I see when I look at Courtney Pringle-Carver. At least, it’s what I used to see.
Now, I see someone pushing even farther than I could imagine, running for provincial politics – but also just like me, trying to keep a lid on the chaos and hoping no one looks in the backseat to notice just what a mess it all is!
“When I go to events, I try to park as far away from the door as possible,” Courtney confided to me over coffee last week, when we got together to talk about her decision to enter politics. “I’ve got this running fear that if people look in my car, they’re going to think I’m a slob, because it’s Starbucks cups and soccer balls and dirt.”
Now that I can relate to!
I’ve known Courtney socially for several years; we’re Facebook friends, but not ‘have dinner at my house’ friends. When I heard she was announcing her candidacy for the Liberal party in the Moncton Northwest riding, I wasn’t surprised. She’s been deeply involved in our community, chairing events and promoting causes, and her career in communications and government relations puts her in a perfect position to jump into the spotlight. But I was surprised when she and her team reached out about profiling her on Pickle Planet – mostly because she wanted to lift that Super Mom cape to show all the real life stuck to the inside.
“My life is not together,” says Courtney, of the image I suggest she portrays. “It’s skidding across the finish line. If the next morning I wake up and feel intact, that’s a good day.”
“I think this is reality for a lot of parents,” she says. “Regardless if you make a lot of money or a little money, there are some days your kids are going to eat Goldfish crackers for breakfast. It’s just going to happen. You try to make yourself not feel so bad about that. You kind of recognize that as long as your kids are kind and they seem well-adjusted and they’re happy, then you’re probably doing a good job. At the end of the day, if you’re doing a good job on those things, I think you can cut yourself some slack.”
Courtney’s son, Graham, is six years old and apparently ready for the political spotlight.
“I remember taking him to an event and I wasn’t sure he was going to want to go,” recalls Courtney. “He said, ‘Is the premier going to be there?’ and I said yeah, and he said ‘Let’s go!’ And I thought, how many six year olds want to go somewhere to listen to discussions about policy because the premier is going to be there?”
Although her nomination for the riding isn’t until November 4, Courtney has already been facing a lot of questions, many of them directed at why she wants to run now, especially with a young child, no matter how politically savvy he is.
“For all the reasons I want this community and this province to be the best place it can be, there’s no reason more important than Graham. There is no disconnect there,” explains Courtney.
“It’s my hope and it’s my goal that he’s going to be able to stay here. It shouldn’t be that he feels he needs to leave to have the kind of career he wants to have, or to have access to the kind of healthcare he feels he or his family needs. That’s a long-term aspiration of mine.”
Politics, like parenting, is a long term game.
“Long term change happens in increments,” says Courtney, highlighting some of the recent provincial political policies that resonate with her, like pushing for income equality. “It can be really easy to look at one year or two years or three years and say nothing’s changing, but you have to look at the incremental gains that happen.”
“I have seen massive, incredible, enormous social progress in this city,” she says, highlighting the participation of both the Premier and an MP marching in Moncton’s Pride Parade as an example, as well as the increased visibility of women in politics.
“I feel really inspired lately to see a bigger shift towards diversity. Even in Moncton right now, the finance minister is a woman, our federal member of parliament is a woman, our mayor is a woman … Not everyone is so fortunate to be able to see their own image mirrored back to them in their representation. When I think about running, I think if I’m fortunate enough to be elected, I really like the idea that somebody could look at me and look at their stove with the dried Kraft Dinner on it and go, ‘If she can do that, I can do that’.”
“I really hope people don’t look at it and go, ‘How can she represent my interests if she can’t vacuum her couch?’ but I think ultimately people don’t want airbrushed images. They want reality. They want to know that the person representing them has an appreciation of their struggles, their joys, what they think can be improved upon.”