Fancy strollers are all the rage-but if you live in a second
floor walk-up in Chicago, do you really think you can carry a baby
plus a stroller that breaks down into two pieces up the stairs?
Or do you want one that you can fold with one hand and carry up
Also, there are so many beautiful furniture stores in Chicago,
so it's easy to get carried away with your nursery. But if your
baby has a small room, you may want to limit yourself to furnishing
up instead of across.
Merav Ruthman, mom to 2-year-old Haley
Growing up in "the 'burbs" of West Michigan, I carried a bit of
guilt for choosing to raise our infant son in the booming
metropolis that is Chicago.
Were we making the right decision? Would it allow the freedom
that I was afforded as a small child? Would he be forced to join a
gang by age 1? Would my single neighbor downstairs tire of his a.m.
dose of techno music in time for my son's nap?
Then it dawned on me, this was going to be the only life he
knew. He wasn't missing out on anything; in fact, he was
experiencing firsthand the life I yearned for and chased down in my
Living in Chicago-and the Uptown neighborhood, in particular-Leo
was born into a world of diversity. I remember sitting in awe that
his first playdate looked like a mini-United Nations. From the day
we brought Leo home, he never saw the world as "minorities" or
"majorities." None of the children had "funny names" or "weird
customs." Everyone was different, yet everyone was the same.
My son was a terrible sleeper. Nap time consisted of lugging
baby + giant stroller down three flights of stairs (condo living)
and then walking the neighborhood to get him to sleep. This
frustrating routine led to meeting some of the nicest folks in our
neighborhood. You see, there were two options after Leo fell
asleep: either I could lug baby + giant stroller back up three
flights of stairs and risk injury, or I could park it at the local
Starbucks. Coffee always wins out. Leo would sleep for an hour or
so in that stroller while Dad would enjoy a warm beverage, good
conversation, a newspaper or an hour of blissful peace.
Finally, before my son could even walk, he was enjoying the many
cultural amenities of Chicago. We would stroll along in Lincoln
Park Zoo as members. We would bounce to "Africa" to see the
giraffes and then to the "Arctic" just around the corner to see the
polar bears. We would spend hour after hour at the Field Museum, so
much so that "dahadoo" (baby talk for dinosaur) became to us our
son's most cherished word. We took fun classes with him at The Old
Town School of Folk Music, we enjoyed many of the amazing Chicago
parks, and we dined at some of the best family-friendly restaurants
the city had to offer.
The crowning point of all this came just a few months back.
Leo, now 6, was enjoying a tractor ride with his grandfather up
in Michigan. I sat back and watched, thinking, "What if this was
his life?" On the ride home I asked him if he wanted to leave
Chicago and move to a house in "the 'burbs"?
My son started to tear up a bit and said no. He loves his home,
his school, his friends, his downstairs neighbor's techno music,
and the only life he has ever known … in the city of Chicago.
See more of Ryan's stories here.
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