Back in May -which seems like an entirely different life- we spent a morning out at Frying Pan Farm with some friends. We love this (free!) farm and have met some of our VA friends out there a couple times. Animals to pet! Farm equipment to climb! Mud to stomp in! Fields to roam! A playground for picnics! I meant to share pictures… but then a certain baby girl showed up several weeks early and a whole lot of things didn’t get done. So here, better late than never, are some pictures of my city kid loving on the country.
See? Soooooo pregnant. And so happy to not be waddling around like that anymore. All summer I craved a yard. I love this city life we live, love the parks and museums and markets and activities. I love the community of urban motherhood that exists just by walking outside my door. But this past summer was really hard too, and so many times I thought how much easier life could be if I had a back door that opened into a yard, a yard where I could send Henry to run and play and explore when getting outside of the house with a newborn just felt like too much. I longed for space to store a stroller that wasn’t our car, and an entrance that didn’t involve flights of steps and lots of hauling. When we visited our families in Kentucky and Indiana at the end of the summer, Henry was in total bliss, his behavior and moods perfected by the endless space of country living and free play. It just compounded the conversations James and I have so frequently. Should we move out of the city? Is this life GOOD for our kids? Does it ask too much of them? Does it set them up for success, does it set us up for success as parents, or are we constantly “disciplining” things that would disappear in the face of more air and sun and space?I don’t have answers to those questions that scroll across our conversations on repeat. And they have woven themselves into so many blog posts and I know you are tired of hearing them. It’s because parenthood has made me acutely aware of how every decision reverberates through other human beings. But this blog post isn’t actually to wax poetic about the country and how much Henry needs freedom to run, or how the air and grass and space are what are missing from our life. It was going to be that, because those things are all true, and days like our day at the farm or our time with family remind me of that. And we do plan on someday getting that space, that grass, that life. But for now, we have city kids living a city. And lately, I have been treasuring the beauty of that. James often has really long days and intense weeks at work and lately there was an especially rough week where he left before the kids were up and got home long after they (and their mother) were in bed almost every day. Of course, that was the week Henry got a terrible case of HFM and Etta started childcare and my semester was gearing up and it was really, really, REALLY hard doing it on my own. Only in the city, the blessing can sometimes be that you aren’t alone, but rather stuffed in around so many people. Often, this feels like a restriction, but lately, I have been overwhelmed at the community. People like my upstairs neighbor, who will text me when she hears Henry start having a tantrum and say “I just put my cat in the stairwell for Henry to play with.” She always carries our packages up since she knows my hands are frequently full, and usually stops at 5:30 to invite Henry on a field trip to her apartment while I get to dash around and restore some pre-dinner order. People like my neighbor-turned-friend who lives in the building behind us and often shows up with paleo treats that she made extra because she knows we are lways on some sort of Whole30 kick. People like all the residents on our corner who showed up when we taped signs on the doors announcing a clean-out-your fridge potluck/block party. Henry’s godparents and so many good friends live within walking distance, but I also love how all the random members of city life that make up our community. Henry knows the dry cleaner and the baristas at coffee shops we frequent and the staff at The Pretzel Bakery and the old man who always sits on his porch in the evening and the nuns who walk by our house on their way to pray. I love that our kids are growing up shoved into a crowded and vibrant community full of so many different types of people. Obviously- that is possible anywhere. But the shear necessity of sharing space in the city brings it into sharp focus. I hope that living in this city is teaching him to love his neighbor, whoever they may be.
I also just love watching Henry navigate city life. I love that he knows how to ride the metro and LIVES to ride the bus. Sometimes I drive him to James’ office when after work just so he can ride the bus home. He is shockingly competent at directions and navigating Capitol Hill, often calling out which way we should go before I even get to an intersection. He is at home in a world so different than the one I grew up in and I am insanely proud of that.Because ultimately, whatever home we raise children in is the only place they know how to thrive. I’m remembering that as I long for more space and delighting in knowing my kids are learning to conquer the city.