My husband and I both grew up in small towns. Neighbors were sparse and dirt roads plentiful. Friday night lights were the social gatherings and everyone knew everyone else’s business. Following college we both moved to the “big city” to chase careers outside of the small town lifestyle. We met, fell in love, married and bought a house.
Years of short commutes, eating at fantastic locally owned restaurants, walking to any and all kinds of entertainment and endless conveniences spoiled us. As we ate our artisan croissants over brunch one morning, we vowed to never leave the city life.
We would be the cool couple, pushing strollers through tree-lined lanes while sipping matcha lattes. We would drive only eco-friendly vehicles, because no one really needs more than a four-door sedan. Our house, although small, was more than enough because more space simply means more stuff. Chain restaurants, just EW! Cookie cutter homes all painted the same shade of brown; oh we could never subject ourselves to such drudgery. Our children would be immersed in culture, diversity and vast experiences.
Our first baby arrived soon after that naïve conversation, and we blissfully came home to our quaint abode. As the saying goes, “never say never” and boy did we get our slap in the face come-uppance. The massive amount of plastic that accompanies such a small being quickly took over every. room. of. the. house. We didn’t have time to frequent the local coffee hangout or make it through a meal at the hottest new restaurant without a baby barfing on us. As our son grew, we recognized the need for more green space, other children to play with and the ability to ride a bike without the fear of disgruntled city drivers whizzing by.
Fast-forward six months and there we were, unpacking boxes in our gray SUBURBAN home. We had come full circle, from country to city and now somewhere in between. The sounds outside the windows were of children giggling and playing rather than sirens and car horns. Life seemed slower and less complicated. The ideal life we had dreamt for ourselves was different than we had first imagined; but then again EVERY notion we had once imagined pre-parenthood was different. As we watched our son toddle down the sidewalk to the neighborhood park, we realized…
It turns out, the suburbs don’t suck after all. Reasons being:
There’s plenty of room for all of the stuff. Have you seen how much storage homes in the suburbs have?!? Our 1950’s city ranch had the same amount of storage as the smallest guest room closet of our new home. Not even an exaggeration. Suddenly, plastic toys, bouncers and activity gyms were not being shoved under beds and in bathroom vanities to simply keep out of sight. Now they had (GASP!) a place. And the garage, let’s just say my husband loves where our cars are parked and his tools reside more than some relatives.
Kids can experience the freedoms we did as children. Remember our moms throwing us outside at daybreak and telling us not to come back in until the next mealtime? That happens in the suburbs! Bike riding, fort building, epic games of hide and seek, it’s taking place on every alley and cul-de-sac. If only I could throw some Tang and bologna sandwiches out the screen door, I would feel as if I were back in the days of big bangs and watching Alf.
A sense of community is truly felt. When our second child arrived, we were showered with gifts, endless meals and offerings…from our NEIGHBORS! The generosity and thoughtfulness was something we had never quite experienced or expected. From watching pets to picking up mail and babysitting, the suburbs are full of people who understand the stage of life you are in and are willing to lend a hand. They recognize the need for a hot meal you didn’t have to cook and are quick to offer of a beer at the end of your driveways after a long week. And best of all, they too have kids who are running around like lunatics in the streets.
You will not be shamed for your gas guzzling minivan or SUV. My four-door sedan is long gone, and I never want her back. Yes, I still love Planet Earth, and I want to save her, but I also love opening doors with the push of a button and legroom for days.
The schools. Let me repeat, the schools! It’s the number one reason we moved to the burbs, and the reason we will probably never leave.
Life feels easier. There’s something to be said for a slower pace. No longer do we feel the need to attend every farmer’s market, cultural gathering or art fair. We are content taking a leisurely stroll to the (neighborhood) pool, visiting the endless amounts of parks or simply having a front-yard picnic. School is within walking distance. Grocery stores are plentiful, despite where you live. And let’s not forget there’s a Target on almost every block (aka every mom’s sanctuary).
Our forgotten cool lives are just a short drive away. We can Uber ourselves to the nearest music festival or non-chain restaurant date night. We can also still give our children the cultural experiences we always desired.
Matcha lattes are gross. Seriously, they do not live up to the superfood, big city, hipster hype. My thrice re-heated Folger’s K-cup does the trick.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my kids to soccer practice while driving my gas-guzzling SUV. Mine will be the one with the stick figure family on the back window.