March 19, 2013

Treasuring Our City


For a long time now, I have longed to live somewhere else.

We live in downtown Houston. In the heart of the city, social life, and bars. We live in the best neighborhood for singles and DINKs (double income no kids). When Alex and I bought our home back in 2007, it was perfect. Perfectly located. Perfectly sized. Perfectly laid out for entertaining our friends.

It was not nearly as perfect when sweet Kate came along. However, it was still pretty amazing.

Then Will unexpectedly joined our family and I started longing for different. A bigger backyard. A true guest room. A play room. A neighborhood with family friendly neighbors not white collar drug dealing felons like the one that lived next door to us several years ago. A living room that was not covered in primary colored toy vomit.

Some days that picture perfect home was in a suburb of Houston. Other days it was back in Mississippi - closer to dear lifelong friends, family, and our alma mater. But it was always away from the city.

However, a few weeks ago, while walking through Herman Park with my little family, feeding the ducks, kicking the nutria away, flying a Cinderella kite, and watching my child, who has spent more of her life in isolation than out exploring the real world, interact with other children as if she has always been exposed to kids her age, I had an epiphany.

This is an amazing place to raise our children.

Our kids live 10 minutes away from a phenomenal zoo, a world renowned Museum of Natural Science, a breath taking Paleontology Hall, parks, nature centers, cultures. Kate can properly identify animals like Bongos. She thinks the "di-sors" at the Museum of Natural Science are hers. She stops and admires the girls taking their Quinceanera pictures and is amazed by seeing real princesses.

She knows all of these things, not because I am sitting her down and teaching her at home, but because she is immersed in her city. Absorbing all it has to offer. Living and breathing this amazing place we currently call home.

I was born and raised in New Orleans, a city that, to most, leaves much to be desired. But for me? When I think of my city? I think of Saturday morning ferry rides across the Mississippi River with my dad to enjoy beignets at Cafe du Monde. I think of looking up to see the boats float down the river because I lived below sea level. I remember Mardi Gras and know that it is actually extremely family friendly. I think of the Audubon Zoo and the white alligators. Carefree rides on the street cars simply because it was fun. I think of muffalettas from Central Grocery, picking off the olive salad because I was crazy and didn't like it until I was much older, and throwing it to the pigeons in Jackson Square.

Kate and Will are not going to remember the less than perfect layout of their first home - but they will remember how awesome it was to be at the zoo in 10 minutes.

They will not remember just how tiny their backyard was - but they will remember the garden we planted and the thousands of times they were pushed in their swing.

They will not remember the crazies that lived down the street (ok maybe they will remember them but stick with me) - but they will remember the multiple languages overheard at the park, the various cultures they were exposed to, the diversity they were surrounded by.

Simply put, they will not dwell on how imperfect our life in the city was. They will cherish the opportunities and experiences they were given because of their time spent here, exposed to so many amazing things.

So for now, I am going to stop thinking about the grass being greener in the suburbs, and start treasuring what downtown Houston has to offer my kids and our family. This is such an amazing city to be able to claim as home, and I hope and pray my kids truly absorb and remember all of the wonderful things this beautiful city will continue to offer them!


Megan and David said...

That's awesome, Lindsey! So glad you realize how lucky you are to live there

Unknown said...

Love this post! I'm sure it's so easy to get caught up in all the things wrong with where you live, but how amazing that your kids get exposed to all those things!

Elizabeth said...

I was raised in NOLA as well & my husband was born & raised on the Northshore. We actually live in the house he was raised in now. I am determined to make sure our daughter is exposed to all the wonderful family friendly finds that New Orleans has to offer, as well as the fun on the Northshore. I find myself too often wishing for something different too, but thank you for the reminder that sometimes what we're looking for could be right in our own back yard!

Ali said...

I had the same epiphany with my city. I grew up in a small town and never imagined living in a big city, but we are here today and I've learned to love it and love raising my kids here.

Elle said...

I know you posted this awhile ago but I have been meaning to comment... I have always wondered how you make living in a smaller (I mean this in the most respectful way possible) house work? Have you ever posted a home tour? Thanks!

Jen Watts said...

You are giving your kids such a wonderful gift by living in a city...take it from a girl who grew up in the country! I'm always jealous of your zoo trips! I'm often so frustrated at lack of activities for the kids here. But, I'm trying to embrace all the things country life offers.

I shared a room with my sister in a teeny tiny house for the first 6 years of my life and it was awesome. We had one tv. We had one bathroom. We played in the creek for fun. And now looking back my childhood seemed pretty awesome.

I don't know why I stress about our current living situation, but I do. I feel so selfish when I utter words like each of our kids need their own bathroom..we need a big playroom...I need a 2 car garage for rainy days. I'm constantly reminding myself to be grateful. Its hard.

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