Rebel Moms

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!Advertisement
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?

Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2157 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

4 Comments on Rebel Moms

  1. While my husband and I don’t currently have children – we are expecting our first this May, we do plan to stay as centrally located as we can. For us, that means walking or biking distance to shops, restaurants, movies, parks and the trails at Town Lake. Before we moved to Travis Heights we lived downtown on 5th street and loved it – and have no problem walking around downtown as the two of us. I am interested to see how that changes when the little guy arrives. Development will no doubt change the city’s landscape, but, all in all Austin is still a really friendly and safe place… relative to other bigger cities. It takes websites like this and people like us to make sure that we fold our kids into our lives within this urban environment – I’ll tell you right now – McDonald’s is not an option for us.

  2. So I live in a 1400 square foot house in north central austin — just north of Anderson, so not what most people think of as central, but definitely walkable to many fine retail establishments, schools, parks, bus stops, etc.

    I’ve been thinking about having a second child, and feel that the current house is just a tad bit too small for 4 of us. So I’ve been hitting the real estate listings and open houses. Last Sunday I dragged my mom to 4 open houses in the “4 bedroom, within 5 miles from where I live now, under $500K (!!!!)” search results.

    Then I came home and cried. Literally. Do I have to give up my values and preferences (or an obscene amount of money) just because I want 2 kids? Only one of the houses I saw even came close, and the $430K it was on the market for was a bit over the $350K I had budgeted.

    Our solution? We’ll either convert the garage or build on. In the long wrong, it will be no more expensive, and a lot more fun, then moving to a badly designed 1980s 4 bedroom in great hills where the only thing in walking distance is the golf course.

  3. I live a mile north of UT; two kids (4 and 13); 1200 square feet. The next-door neighbors have 3 kids under 7 in 1050 square feet.

    You just have to decide what you want more.

  4. we were living in north central austin until last spring. we knew we wanted to add to our family and to get off such a busy street (we were on 45th street just west of shoal creek). i am happy to be in a bigger house with a quieter street and parks right here, but man do i miss austin. i miss being able to walk to central market, upper crust, saver’s, randall’s, yarborough library, and ramsey park. we desperately want to move back to austin, but we can’t really afford it. and, hopefully our family will expand soon, and we (think we need) need 3 bedrooms to live comfortably.

    this is an “argument” i have with myself at least once a week. one thing we could do to help us afford to move back to austin is for me to go back to work full time. i’m just not into that at this point.

    i do love our new little town of pflugerville; there is so much small-town charm and family feel here. but, having walking access to everyday things is just not here. i can walk to CVS. i can walk to an ice cream shop and a coffee drive through. i can walk to a cookie place. but, i can’t walk to the post office or grocery store or to very many restaurants.

    i’ve never taken my DD downtown. now that she thinks it’s FUN to run away from me, i’m not eager to do so. though, i could put her in the backpack and traipse around downtown. actually, that sounds fun…

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