Change of Heart

Ok, I am clearly nervous to write this because I just wrote the first paragraph and deleted it four times. It’s just that I haven’t had to break up with anyone in a long time. It’s strange to be back in that mindset.

I feel relief with my realization, but also such guilt. I’m looking forward to things to come, but also thankful for what we’ve had. And I have learned a lot about myself.

Chicago, I love you. I really do, and I will always defend you as one of the best places I have ever lived, but this isn’t going to go anywhere. I’m leaving you.

I know I thought that this would be a lifelong relationship, but things have changed. It’s not you, it’s me. And let’s still be friends, as they say.

——–

Friends, I am as shocked as you are about the following statement:

I think I want to move to the suburbs. Yes, want. Or even better? A smaller town. Just someplace with yards, trees, and space for kiddos to play. Somewhere that still has easy access to the city by a train, so Justin can still work at his dream job. And I still want to be able to visit when we please.

Yeah, in the back of my mind, I guess I knew this day would come. But I figured it would be many years down the road. Up until a couple of months ago, I was 100% sure I wanted to raise city kids. There are a ton of advantages to doing this, including access to a lot more culture than kids who live outside the city limits are exposed to on a daily basis. Thousands of people do it. I could list a hundred reasons to raise kids in the heart of a city that I love so much.

But all those reasons? They involve a lot of scheduling. They involve close supervision without exception. Logistics that would make your head ache. Oh, and about a million bajillion dollars.

Justin and I did not grow up in big cities. Our best memories of childhood are those that involve riding bikes, capture the flag with neighbor kids, creeks, dirt, treehouses and a crap-ton of fresh air. Now I know that times have changed a bit, and you can’t just let your kid run a muck without a care. But I can’t imagine not being able to tell Benton to “go play outside.”

I feel very strongly that part of the reason my brother and I grew up to be such creative and imaginative people, is because we didn’t have a playroom overflowing with toys. We didn’t have a schedule of playdates where our parents had to oversee our every move. We didn’t have to wait to run and dig and explore until the (wood-paneled) minivan pulled up to the park. We just went outside and the world was ours.

Mom was always available and there to check up on us, but I don’t remember her having to facilitate our playtime and watch our every move. We were free.

I want my kid(s) to be free. And when I picture my family growing, it is not inside a noisy city apartment or condo. Our every activity isn’t carefully considered and planned out. Parking is not an issue. City noises aren’t sabotaging nap time. Playdates are not the only time they get to see a friend because there are kids in the yard next door.

I know this may sound crazy but I see a place that has more than a couple of rooms to live in. A place for Justin to have an office that is occasionally quiet and off-limits to grubby hands and squealy voices. I see a yard. A tree or two or ten that I will get to know and love. Someplace that has chair for me to sit in while I watch tiny bare feet run in the yard before the sun goes down.

Does it sounds extravagant? It does to me. I almost feel greedy. But when I really start to think about it, not that far out of reach. I am not that crazy for wanting this.

I want to go to there. I want to go home.

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11 responses to “Change of Heart

  1. Sounds like you need to contact House Hunters! Love the blog
    http://www.babyandboy.wordpress.com

  2. Dude, I know exactly how you feel. I think it’s awesome that you’ve put words to paper. I’m still in major denial.

  3. Ummm…. may i recommend Indianapolis! it’s a small city with TREES and cute kids named Mia!

  4. I enjoy living close to a big city yet in a small town. We live 20 miles outside of Memphis, TN in a really beautiful town. I complain because I grew up here and want to have a life that doesn’t involve this small town but we’d just end up in another town just like this one and not know anyone!

    It takes 30 minutes to drive downtown from my house with traffic so it’s not too bad for us easy to get in and out of the city for things yet we are just far enough away crime isn’t a big deal here. 🙂

  5. I don’t normally recommend PDX to folks…I like it small. But we have the best of both worlds. A city and the houses with yards. And did I mention the best food in the world. Also a very good place to raise kids. It’s nice 🙂

  6. I just so happen to know the *perfect* area for you.

    🙂

  7. Going outside is Isobel’s #1 most favorite thing to do ever ever ever in the world. Ever. She asks to go outside at least three times a day.

    I don’t think you’ll regret moving.

  8. Well, as someone who’s lived here twice as long as you, I can honestly say that if you feel in your heart that there’s something else waiting for you out there, you should take it. For me, when we moved here, kids were the furthest thing from my mind…I grew up very similar to you and your husband, with a yard and bike ride adventures and a sandbox and the whole shebang. It was awesome. Even when we bought this condo I had no intentions of starting a family any time soon, if ever. Then, I had my own “change of heart” and I knew being a mom was just something I HAD to do, I felt it in my soul. Now that we have our little daughter, I’m torn. We would have to move so many things in our life, and come up with not just one new job, but two, if we were to move. We’re not the suburban types per se, but we could move back to NWI if the opportunity presented itself. I say if you have not purchased any property here, then you have it so much easier. Your husband, if he doesn’t mind it, could commute. Commuting is not something in the cards for us. I did it for almost two years from Indiana and it was just about the most awful thing in the world, I hated it. But I do see myself with that big yard and a swing-set, and a garden someday. Just not sure when we’re going to be able to make that happen.

    Another thing to consider, is that when I was growing up, I wanted so badly to be here in Chicago, I would come here with friends, go to concerts and just hang out in the city. Then I moved here. I feel like I am giving Elise a pretty good start, in a city with lots of opportunity, and she doesn’t have to long to “move away” from mom and dad, like I did. She has it all at her fingertips. So yeah, to sum it up, it is a pretty tough decision. And only you know what is right. Good luck!!!

  9. Oh, I know just what you mean. I love where we live and that we can still call Chicago a home but we just have to drive a bit to get to it. But also when I’m there, Chicago, my body aches to live there again. To raise our kids there. So funny… the grass (the buildings)… always always greener (shinier) on the other side. 🙂

    Steph

  10. We’ve lived all over, and I’ve imagined raising my kids in all sorts of places. (Downtown San Francisco? Beachside in San Diego? In the country? On a suburban farm?) I still don’t have it figured out.

    But I think there’s no shame in admitting this, just as there’s no shame in declaring in one’s youth that one never wants children only to realize having a baby is one of life’s greatest joys. (Not that I have any personal experience or anything.) It’s something most of us go through. (See also: The desire to get rid of one’s pets after kids.)

  11. As much as living in a small town drives me bananas a whole lot of the time, I love our big (to me) house and big yard and the fact that we can spend a whole afternoon outside just lolling around while Tori finds flowers and crunchy leaves and bugs to play with.

    The suburbs have a lot to recommend them – even if part of your inner hipster has to die.

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