Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

A Great Place to Raise Kids March 26, 2012

I live in “a great place to raise kids.” People have been telling me this since before I made the decision to leave L.A. and make this my part-time home.

I love it here. I can walk into town for just about any service I need. I can walk or bike from my house along a creekside path that takes me out into the vineyards. A ten-minute drive away is a huge State Park, where I can hike, bike, look for birds, and enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside. For me, this is a great place to live.

I didn’t give much thought to it being a great place to raise kids until my neighbor stopped me one day last week. She and her husband run a day care center in their house and even as I write this post, I can hear the kids playing and squealing in the backyard. It doesn’t bother me. I enjoy their laughter, and when things turn ugly – as they’re apt to do later in the afternoon around nap time – I get to enjoy one of those “Phew, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that tantrum” moments.

But last week, the neighbor lady made a welcome gesture to join her and her friends for cocktails one night. “We have a great group of ladies here in the neighborhood,” she told me. “You’ll love them.” But I realize that in this “great place to raise kids” this woman’s great group of ladies all have kids too.

I was struck with an image of myself sitting on the couch, clutching a pina colada and staring like a deer in the headlights as the neighbor asked me if my husband and I are going to have kids, while a dozen pairs of inquisitive eyes bore into the new girl, waiting to hear her answer.

I’ve lived in L.A. for 18 years. I barely know any of my neighbors because, as a general rule, L.A. is a great place to be anonymous and neighbors don’t often come around to introduce themselves. As a woman without children, it’s a great place to blend into the background. But here in “a great place to raise kids” I’m starting to worry that I might not fit in after all.

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9 Responses to “A Great Place to Raise Kids”

  1. Well then tell her that, this group may be more sensitive than others. Tell her that you are unable to have kids and it’s painful for you. So painful in fact that it virtually defines who you are, and you feel you may not fit in and see what she says. At least its all out there on the table, and then SHE can feel out the rest of the group, and give you, or them, a heads-up.

  2. Kellie Says:

    Oh, how I can relate….on so many levels. I too, moved from LA to where we are now, four years ago. We moved for a few reasons, but the main reason for me was to raise a family up in Northern California, as opposed to where we were in LA. Well, now that we know that that is not going to happen, I so much want to go back to the life we had in LA as I just don’t fit in up here. Not only in my neighborhood, work environment, but also in my husbands family, who also lives up here, and is the main reason my husband wanted to leave LA.

    His family, and now his best friend and his wife, all belong to a church where having lots of children is expected.. So needless to say, there are lots of kids and more on the way. I find that when I am around his family and friends, I just don’t fit in. I sit around the dinner table and have to listen to all the talk of being pregnant, raising boys vs girls, schools, etc….it’s never ending. Everyone is aware of our situation, but we are usually just ignored or are given the pity look from time to time.

    I guess, for me, that “moving to a great place to raise kids” was something I should have waited to do until I found out that I actually could have kids. Because, now, I.am.stuck!!

  3. Mali Says:

    I guess I’d give it a go – once anyway. At the least, you might meet one or two women who aren’t obsessive about their children, who are interesting and fun, and that would be a bonus.

    And remember, with any intrusive questions, you only have to give the information YOU choose to give.

    And finally, in my experience, the anticipation of events like these are always worse than the reality.

    Oh … and this part of your post? “I can walk into town for just about any service I need. I can walk or bike from my house along a creekside path that takes me out into the vineyards. A ten-minute drive away is a huge State Park, where I can hike, bike, look for birds, and enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside.” It made me totally jealous. Sounds gorgeous!

  4. Quasi-Momma Says:

    I think you’ll find people do understand. Nobody talks about these things. But when when you do finally discuss it, you’ll find that people have been through similar or the same situations. I’m always surprised who life puts in your path.

  5. IrisD Says:

    I’m dittoing Mali. Also on the jealousy!!! When I lived in Oxford I used to go for long strolls in the meadow and alongside the river, once went on a long bike ride to the woods… Could walk or ride my bike everywhere, and take an hour bus ride into London… sigh!!! Now I’m in suburbia and would really love to live in a place such as you are describing.

  6. I’m dittoing Mali as well, enjoy that beautiful place to live and let it bring out the child in you and go to the drinks, you never know until you try. At least there will be alcohol to drown your sorrows if it gets too much and then you can become the obnoxious childless woman who can afford to have a hangover as she doesn’t have to get up to the kids in the morning.

  7. OK. Unanimous advice. Assuming that my neighbor hasn’t discovered this blog and decided to strike me from the list, I’ll go when the invitation comes. And you’re right, Living my Life, if it turns ugly I can gloat. :-)

    Thanks ladies.

    And yes, despite feeling a bit like a square peg in a round hole, I do get to live in a beautiful place and visit another beautiful place whenever I choose. Maybe I’ll take some photos to post for fun (once it stops raining around here.)

  8. loribeth Says:

    I ditto Mali… but I can relate too. We bought our house specifically because we thought it would be a great place to raise kids — big back yard, quiet child-friendly street full of young families, within walking distance of schools & parks, close to dh’s cousin, who was raising two young daughters. Of course, the back yard remains largely unused, dh’s cousin’s family drifted away from us after the stillbirth of our daughter & their two daughters are now grown & away at college. We watch other people’s kids playing street hockey outside, and we don’t know the neighbours as well as we probably would if we had kids who were playing with theirs. Suburbia can be both a blessing & a curse…!

  9. It’s so true that it’s easy to be anonymous in L.A. And if you’ve got a great group of friends, or you’re a mom that can sign up for Mommy & Me classes to meet people, it’s no big deal. But if you’re the one that’s going to remain Childfree while all your L.A. friends have kids and drift away, it’s a REALLY hard city to meet new people. My husband and I struggle with this all the time and I think if he didn’t love his job so much, we’d be off to somewhere like San Fran in a flash.


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