I never wanted to move to the suburbs. I grew up in a suburb and it was nice enough, but after college I moved to Seattle and developed an appreciation for city life.
I loved being near the latest art opening or concert in the park, and within walking distance of unique restaurants and shops. In New York, I lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn on one of those tree-lined streets you see in movies. Life in suburbia seemed comparably bland, so I made my home in cities for 16 years.
I knew many people headed for the burbs after having kids, but I didn’t want to be one of them. I lived in Denver when my first son was born and after having a baby, I still enjoyed city life. We could eat breakfast out while he sat happily in his car seat, and if he was resisting a nap, I could put him in the stroller and walk to a nearby coffee shop to sip iced tea while he slept.
But once I had a toddler who didn’t want to sit in the stroller or stay constrained to a sidewalk, things became more difficult.
“We might as well resign ourselves to a sedate suburban life now,” I joked to my husband. With young kids we weren’t going out much anyway.
So we started looking for houses in a suburb. We toured places when I was pregnant with our second son, and the morning sickness mixed with 80s style architecture was not sitting well with me. Some of the houses were near a street lined with chain restaurants, where the closest thing you could walk to was a cluster mailbox.
But the suburb we were looking in also had a nearby downtown area with local coffee shops and restaurants that offered some semblance of city life. We bought a home as close as possible to the area: not within walking distance, but at least a close drive.
After we signed a contract for a new construction house, I watched the last few months of my city life tick away with a slight sense of panic, making lists of places to visit one last time. But after my second son was born and our old house felt completely cramped, I knew it was time to go.
The first few months in the burbs were a blur with young kids, but after the fog cleared I realized I was happy in my new surroundings. Our floor plan and neighborhood are refreshingly open and I’ve gained some of the traditional upsides of suburbia: nearby trails and lakes, good schools, and a street my kids can ride loops around on their bikes.
I’ve also discovered good food and the suburbs are not mutually exclusive – there is a great Pho place nearby and some of the best brisket I’ve ever had is from a BBQ restaurant in a strip mall near Target.
Still, I can’t claim I’m living the same city lifestyle I used to. I am a card-carrying Costco member. My husband has mentioned the word “minivan.” During a recent visit to Village Inn I was like, “This place is great! It’s fast and our kids can have pancakes for dinner. Why haven’t we been coming here all the time?”
But what I’ve come to realize is that big life events like having kids can shift you in ways you may have never anticipated. The visions you had of yourself can change – like a mural painted over and redesigned with time.