Debunking the Myths of Suburbia

Several of my friends and relatives live in the city of Chicago. I, however, live in a suburb of Chicago. Some people who actually live in the city proper would get upset with me when I say that I’m from Chicago, because technically, I’m not. When I’m traveling or at a conference, though, saying I’m from Chicago cuts to the chase. Take, for example, the following conversations.

Stranger: Where are you from?
Me: Chicago.
Stranger: Oh! The Windy City!


Stranger: Where are you from?
Me: Illinois
Stranger: Oh, where in Illinois?
Me: Mount Prospect
Stranger: I’ve never heard of it. Where is it?
Me: By Chicago.
Stranger: Oh! I love IKEA!

(Myth #1: IKEA is in Schaumburg, not Chicago.)

I’m not much for small talk. I prefer the first conversation, even if I don’t actually live in Chicago.

So, yes, I live in the suburbs. Some in the city criticize the ‘burbs for being a boring place to live. Stereotypes abound about suburban life. However, life in the suburbs is not all they say it is. Here are some myths that simply aren’t true in my neighborhood.

  1. Myth: You have to drive everywhere. While it’s true that I do have to drive to get groceries, there are many places I can walk to; we walk to the elementary school, the playground, and to friends’ houses. We can also walk to the community center where Lily and Emmy have taken many dance and music classes. Our park district pool is in walking distance, along with the middle school my girls will attend. But the most exciting place to walk to in my neighborhood is Dunkin’ Donuts, which is right across the street from the preschool where I teach.
  2. Myth: There’s no public transportation. When I went to high school, I lived in a nearby suburb and took the public bus to school. Here in Mt. Prospect, we can walk to the bus stop and to the train station. In March, we took the train downtown to go up to the ledge at the top of the Sears Tower. You know, the same ledge that cracked just a few weeks ago.
  3. Myth: There’s no night life in the suburbs. Last weekend, Ed and I went on a date night in the neighboring suburb of Arlington Heights. We had reservations at a local Italian restaurant named Carlos & Carlos, where the bartender was cheering for Italy at the World Cup and Ed was watching a chef make fresh pasta. Oh, the pasta was so delicious! The last time I ate a cream sauce that authentic was at a little Italian place in Boston.
    Big Anthony
    Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

    After Ed and I stuffed ourselves like Big Anthony, we went to see a play. The Last Five Years is a musical which will soon be a movie, and it was surprisingly good. We then sauntered over to a place called Big Shots. Ed and I call it the Piano Bar because we always forget the real name of the place. They have a very entertaining piano player and singer.

    The best part of the evening? Parking was free! I dare you to find free parking in Chicago.

  4. showimage_lastfive

  5. Myth: There’s no diversity. Yes, the suburbs used to be a place for only white people to live. Times have changed for the better. We are surrounded with a variety of cultures and languages, and my children are growing up in a rich environment.
  6. Myth: Everyone drives a minivan. Well, this is still mostly true, unless you drive an SUV.

swagger wagon
What is your neighborhood like? Are there any myths about your neighborhood that need debunking? Let us know in the comments or by linking up your own blog post!

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Happy Father’s Day, Ed {Spin Cycle}

Ed was thinking about our children long before I was. When we began looking for a house soon after we got married, Ed had some specific requirements.  All the cute little houses I liked were no good. He wanted room to grow, a basement, a big backyard, and a playground within walking distance. He also wanted to live in a neighborhood with sidewalks so that we could walk safely to the playground with our kids. Our house was going to be our lifetime house; the house where we were going to raise our family.

When I write “lifetime house,” I do not mean our dream house. These are two different things. I’ll describe the dream house for you another day. The lifetime house that we bought has three bedrooms, a basement, an attached garage and is walking distance from both the elementary school and the playground. It was built in the 1960’s, decorated in the 1980’s, and we are still working on updating it. Ed knew what he was looking for, and we found a great house for raising a family.

About a year after we bought the house, Lily was born. Ed was thrilled to be a Daddy. He changed Lily’s first diaper and walked around with her for hours while she cried and while she slept. He gave Lily her first bottle when I couldn’t produce enough milk, and we tag-teamed feeding her. I breastfed her during the day, he gave her a bottle at night.

Ed holding Lily at the hospital
Ed holding Lily at the hospital

When Emmy was born almost three years later, he was just as thrilled and stayed in the hospital with me and Emmy for four days while I recovered from a c-section. He changed her diapers, I fed her. He slept on that green chair in the picture below every night so that he could help me get Emmy when she cried.

Ed with Emmy and Lily the day Emmy was born
Ed with Emmy and Lily the day Emmy was born

We were a team.

We still are.

When Emmy is having one of her meltdowns and I’m about to lose it, Ed steps in and calms her down. When the girls want to go to the playground, Ed is never too tired to take them. He is always available to read a book or play a game. And he is the best at surprising them with a trip to the ice cream shop.

He’s not the perfect dad, but I’m not the perfect mom, either. Somehow, together, we seem to make it work. And there’s one thing I know for sure.

He’s always thinking about his girls.


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