Sandra and Chris worked hard to create their dream life. After countless years of school, they could finally reap the benefits. Working at two prestigious companies, Sandra and Chris bought their first townhouse in Chicago. They loved city living and they never planned to move to the suburbs.
Things don’t always go the way you plan.
Making the Most of City Living
After Jake was born, Sandra and Chris continued to enjoy city life in Chicago. They loved checking out the new restaurants in town and meeting up with friends. Sandra explains why life didn’t change that much, “My friends from work weren’t my ‘mom’ friends. They were my friends. Some had kids; some didn’t.” The cliché about a couple’s social life being over after having a baby simply wasn’t true. The family of three loved the pace of life that came with living in the city.
Then, Life Happens
Pretty soon, the couple realized that they would need more space when they learned that Jake would become a big brother. Chris and Sandra decided to sell their townhouse, buy a new house in Chicago, and renovate it. They wanted their kids to grow up with all the benefits the city offered. That same year, Sandra stood by her mother’s side throughout her illness. Her mother passed away before she had the chance to meet Sandra’s little girl. Even though it would be difficult to continue, Sandra knew they needed to finish their renovation plans before the baby was born. It wasn’t an easy time, but the family created their dream home in the city.
Getting Mommy Tracked
When Lily came into her life, Sandra decided to go part-time and work three days a week. Sandra didn’t intend to make this change. “I never planned on staying home with the kids. I loved my job,” Sandra explains. However, after her mother passed away, she felt differently. “I started wanting to be home more with the kids.”
Because Sandra would now be working three days a week instead of full-time, Sandra decided to step down from her role as supervisor. As a part-time attorney, she didn’t want to spend all her time supervising. Sandra wanted to do cases. The problem was that she soon got rolled off the important cases. Sandra understood her dilemma, “I got it. I chose to be part-time. It was a double edge sword. It wasn’t worth it for the money. I was barely breaking even paying my nanny. Then, I was starting to get all these cases that weren’t worth it.” Her co-workers began leaving to other jobs, too. This contributed to another downgrade in the work life she loved.
Unexpected Turns in Life
It happened out of the blue. Sandra never planned on quitting her job. On the nanny’s first day, she called Sandra in the morning: “I’m sorry. I’ve decided to stay with my former employer.” Hurt by the nanny who her son loved and still saddened by the loss of her mom, Sandra decided to quit. Sandra describes that morning, “All of a sudden I had no childcare and I thought, ‘I’m done. I’m done.’ My mom had died. I saw how fleeting everything was.” Sandra soon entered the world of being a stay at home mom in the city.
City Life as a SAHM
Sandra found it hard to be a stay-at-home mom in the city. Many of the moms worked in her community, so she found herself hanging out with the nannies who had already formed their own circle of friends. Eventually when Jake started preschool, Sandra met some moms at school. Unfortunately, the kids lived throughout the city, so playdates weren’t so easy. “You would need to leave thirty minutes early to a playdate even though things were really close. You could get trapped behind a garbage truck. It was more stressful than life needed to be.”
Moving to the Suburbs
Chris and Sandra decided to make the move to the suburbs for the sake of the family. While many families move for more space and a bigger backyard, they chose the suburbs for the schools and the community. “We had a backyard in the city. We knew that you don’t use it as much [as you think you might]. I know people pick their house based on the yard, but that was not us. The kids are going to be so busy that they’re not going to have time to use it. We had already seen it happening.”
Moving to the suburbs for the community proved to be the right choice for their family. “I love our community. The kids are involved with so much and it’s so easy. There’s also the support. If I had to, I’d say, “Ali, can you get my kid? And you would do it and I trust you to do it.” Yes, Sandra misses the city, but she has plans to enjoy it later. Sandra laughs and tell me, “We can get a condo once the kids move out.”