I took the baby to the Austin Children’s Museum yesterday morning for Baby Bloomers and for the first time in my many years here in Austin I saw lots of little babies downtown. Of course, they were all concentrated within a couple of blocks and heading straight towards the museum. I was reminded again of my irritability that I don’t see more kiddos hanging out downtown and how uncomfortable it is sometimes to have my kids with me when I frequent many of the downtown establishments. As I was standing at the crosswalk, waiting for the little man to tell me to walk, I looked up at the massive building going up right across the street from the museum and wondered if perhaps this one might be a child-friendly condo. It is right across the street from one of the few kid friendly establishments downtown. Highly unlikley, but I let my mind wander in that direction with hopes of a different downtown coming soon.
I like to go to Little City, even though they don’t have high chairs or a changing station, and I have never had a bad look from anyone there. In fact, we always feel welcome and the kids get lots of attention from the other patrons. I talked with the new owner of Hickory Street Patio Cafe and Drinkery in the summer and he was all about getting more families in there. It seems to me that we, as moms who aren’t interested in letting our former lives just dwindle away, have to continue to walk the same path that we walked before having our kids. It may take some shuffling around on our end to make things more doable and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the same from local business owners. I mean, isn’t it logical to think that they would increase their profits if they catered to more than just the singles and retiree crowd?
When we give birth our identity changes instantly, right? At least on the outside, people view us differently and we have more responsibilities- it becomes more about our kids and less about ourselves. But why does that mean we have to limit our activities to the McDonald’s playscape or the park in the burbs? Is it possible to create an Austin that accepts the “new” us? One that has businesses who open their arms to us as we walk through their doors, parks in the middle of downtown (yes, I know our precious land is reserved for condo development and there is no profit in parks) and high chairs in fancy restaurants that have candles and pretty flowers on crisp, white table linens. Really, I think it’s all a matter of time because the city can only sustain this growth for so long. Before you know it, the singles will be getting married and having kids and the grandparents will always be babysitting their grandbabies. Let’s face it, kids are here and it’s time to accomodate them!
I was happy to read ValueWit’s post this morning. I am so happy to see another mom trying to live her life as she lived it before and proud to have kids in the mix of it all. Here’s a little of what she has to say:
This is what I’m thinking – urban development discriminates against family and most blatantly, married (old) women. Family is the new Black. Remember the days of segregation (well, honestly, are they really over?) when the black family wasn’t welcome in the white neighborhood? In 2K8, families are in the same predicament with respect to urban living– the land of urban coolness doesn’t welcome the family and hopes that the childbearing woman will pack herself into a box that could be slipped under the bed…in a suburban house, of course.
The Value wIT world headquarters is located in a historic neighborhood a smidge to the north of downtown Austin. Back in the 1830’s when Austin was called Waterloo, Value wIT’s neighborhood was named Original City. So much for history and nostalgia, the new urban development plan has a photograph of a bulldozer on the lawn of Value wIT’s office empire. Save the protected historic homes, the neighborhood is going with the “vertical, mixed-used” strategy. This means high-rise condos with retail on the ground floor. Sounds somewhat glamorous, however, practically VMU means shabbily built apartments with abandoned retail slots at street level.
You can read the rest of her post here. What are your thoughts on urban living with a family? Are there any readers out there who live downtown with kids? What can we do to make the changes that we need to roam the streets just as freely as we did when we were childless?