City Babies: The Upper West Side Mommy Code


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A recent post by one of our favorite bloggers, Brooke Foster, the mom behind Mommy Moi.


City babies have it good, but do the mommies? Here's what I've learned about city babies and city mommies from living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

I pushed Harper in the CityMini one last time down to Riverside Park yesterday morning. It was a happy last day in the city--it was sunny and everyone was out with their strollers and dogs and rollerblades and bikes. For a second, I imagined what our lives would look like if we didn't move and chose to raise Harper in Manhattan--I fantasized about bike rides in Riverside Park, walking as a family to dinner, moving into a building with lots of kids where Harper could run door to door for playdates.

It defines your identity when you choose to raise a kid in the city, and it's a choice that I've always admired. To me, kids in the city are more cultured, they appreciate diversity, their playground is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But I'm not so sure that raising kids in the city is as great for moms. Bringing up a baby in New York City is such a royal pain in the butt that I've given up on trying to make it work entirely. It's exhausting. I'm sure that I'm going to have tons to say about my adventures in the suburbs--and I'm sure I'll long for my city life--but until then here's what I learned about raising a kid in the city.

1. Schlepping with a baby or kid is no fun. In the suburbs, you can load the kids in the car and run your errands. In the city, you're walking everywhere, which is great, but then you're lugging groceries along with a diaper bag, your kid and anything else you've purchased up to your apartment. I shop at Whole Foods, so they deliver my groceries to my doorstep. But if I need anything in smaller batches, like diapers and wipes and then dog food, I'm making multiple trips to the store.

2. No one goes over to each other's houses. We've only been invited to another family's apartment once since Harper was born, and I've never invited anyone with a child to my apartment; it's because few people have enough space to entertain with kids running around. (Ok, the super rich do, but I'm not friends with anyone super rich.) Instead, I'm always meeting up with mommies and their babies in parks. This works out okay, but I love get togethers where babies get to share each other's toys and moms can relax together and sip lemonade.

3. Wear your city life like a badge of honor. Mothers who have chosen to raise their kids in the city will never complain about how challenging it can be to someone who lives outside in the city. Instead, city moms talk about the romantic parts of raising a child here--Long stroller walks through the West Village or the fact that their husbands get home from work after a 15 minute subway ride.

But among each other, city mommies will be more frank about how they're longing for a house--or they're tired of going to the Museum of Natural History. Sure, there's tons more to do in the city, but living anywhere too long gets boring, even Manhattan.

4. Taking a baby on the subway isn't fun. Ok, it's kind of fun. Harper loves waving to all of the people and when the train starts moving he'll often squeal. But I don't even like breathing the air in the subway, so why should Harper have to? Also, you have to learn where the elevators in the subway are--Finding them is hard enough, but then you get inside and there may be leftover puke from the night before. Subway elevators are pretty atrocious, so taking a stroller on the subway really, really sucks.

5. Smile knowingly if you see another mom with a baby, but don't talk. Before I had Harper, I imagined it would be so easy to make mommy friends in the city. But it's actually really, really hard. When I take Harper to the park, there are very few moms there--it's all nannies. When I do see other moms, they're often alone, pushing a stroller while texting or chatting on the phone. I often want to approach them and say: "Hey, you want to chat and walk around together?" It would make the same old walk more interesting. But I chicken out because I know that's considered weird, and the mom would probably look at me like I have seven heads.

6. Yes, you can take your baby to the Met, Moma or Guggenheim museums everyday, but you won't. The argument for raising kids in the city is simple: The parents are city people, and they want their kids to be city kids. And for many people this is a great setup. But what I've noticed is that my city life looks nothing like I imagined it would. I'm not sitting at an outdoor cafe with Harper having lunch or taking the subway down to Bleeker Street to window shop. I'm doing exactly what every mother in America with a 14-month-old is doing--preparing meals, grocery shopping, going to the park, putting Harper down for naps. Moms are moms.


Brooke Foster is a New York City Mom of one. She blogs at Mommy Moi.

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