A little over two years ago, after a decade of
living in the city limits of Chicago, we packed up and moved to the
suburbs. My husband and I sometimes refer to the cultural city vs.
suburbs divide as "the chasm." Having lived on one side of the
chasm in the city, I had some preconceived notions about what our
suburban existence would be like. And you know what? I
was wrong. Here are some aspects of suburban life with my family
that have surprised me.
The suburbs can be
When we announced our move, some people told us
that our decision to leave the city meant depriving our daughter of
the benefit of growing up with a multitude of cultural influences.
I have to admit that I worried about this, too. Yet the
diversity in our suburb has been one of my greatest surprises and
At my daughter's birthday party last month, more
than half of our tween guests had parents or grandparents born in
countries other than the United States. These countries included
Bangladesh, India, China, Italy and the Philippines.
Not every suburb is like that, but ours is and I'm
so very grateful.
Also, those wonderful cultural establishments and
ethnic neighborhoods of the city are only a short drive
There are more than just chain restaurants
in the suburbs
There are fabulous dining options all around us -
wonderful family establishments with delicious food and quirky,
Many city dining establishments even have suburban
outposts. Our town features city favorites ranging from Hugo's Frog
Bar to Heaven on Seven.
In fact, we had lived in the suburbs for more than
two years before my daughter made her very first trip to Olive
Garden. At age 10, she had never been. She didn't love it, she
didn't hate it, but more importantly, her palate has not been
scarred for life.
You can still enjoy the city even if you
don't live there
It's shocking but true - suburbanites are allowed
back into Chicago if they wish to return, even for a few hours. And
doing so is not all that hard. Okay, I knew we could go back,
but I really am surprised by the fact that we visit with some
regularity and it really isn't a big deal.
In the past year as a family we have enjoyed
everything from the Art Institute and Wrigley Field to the Lyric
Opera and the Museum of Science and Industry. The amount of time it
has taken us to return to our home has not been so onerous that we
have refrained from making another trip.
Who knew that the 'burbs were full of so many
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.
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