On Monday I went to go visit my bestie in the city, I walked into her cool artsy studio in the district with my 2 year old in tow. Bundles of magazines, a cheerful Buddha and a beautiful painting that her grandmother had painted were on the side of the wall.
We caught up on each others weekend, scanned family pictures on Facebook and then got ready to walk to the zoo. I was happily sitting on the couch sipping my chai but my friend insisted that we walk. She is very focused on health and fitness and for fun likes to walk. I have a hard time understanding why I was being forced to walk when I had just made a comfy warm spot on the couch. I reluctantly agreed and we grabbed cereal in a ziplock for Hassan and began our walk.
I saw several moms walking with their strollers down the busy sidewalk and I turned to my friend and said with gratitude “I love living in the ‘burbs.'” She looked back at me surprised and asked why?
I stammered and said there’s no Costco in the city! Where would I get diapers from? Other thoughts flashed through my head… Where would I park my car (parking is so difficult in the city), who would be my childs pediatrician?
She calmly responded to these absurd concerns by saying “Saman there are doctors in the city,” and she added you wouldn’t have to park because you can walk everywhere or use the metro.
I wasn’t convinced, “How would I walk everywhere and what about my double stroller, it won’t fit in the Metro!” She replied saying that I would just need to change my double stroller so that its the stackable kind.
“Didn’t everyone want to move to the burbs when raising a family?” I thought to myself, why do I have to explain to my friend that the city is not a place to raise kids. But what seems like a very obvious choice in my head doesn’t hold true for my friend and many other people. The appeal for my friend was about accessibility, she wanted to skip the whole loading the kids in the car process and just walk to places in the city. She thought that the city lifestyle is a more active lifestyle with lots of more opportunities to explore area parks and take advantage of the diverse cultural experiences. I agree with her I feel that kids would be exposed to many more different types of people and would be engaging with people on the street, in the metro and even the elevators of their own apartment buildings.
I’m not sure I would be able to appreciate raising a family in the city because I feel that the most important thing for me is an active Mosque community. Things like an Halal meat store and a Pakistani grocery store would be very neccesary and I have become a total suburbanite with my easy access parking to walmart, my costco membership and my kids love for Chuck E. Cheese.
While the city life is not for us I now realize that what seems like a hassle to me (living in the city with young kids) is loved and valued by many people. It’s about changing perspective and adjusting to the surroundings around you. I think there are pros and cons to raising kids in the city but I think that is something that each family has to decide for themselves.
The city kids may not have easy access to suburban malls and Chuck E. Cheese but if my friend decides to have kids Im sure her kids would be very well acquainted with the zoo, the Smithsonian Museums and without a doubt will be much cooler than me.