Thursday, August 16, 2007

Appreciating the Tranquility of Home.

I constantly vacillate between whether rural Maine is the best place to raise our family or whether we should consider moving to "the city". For those who have read this blog since its inception, you are all too aware of my indecision on this matter. But can you blame me? I mean, our rural country setting is just so darn peaceful, beautiful and relaxing. We can hear ourselves think. We can enjoy nature. We can raise farm animals. Heck, we can run naked through the woods without a soul seeing us! (Ok, we haven't done this yet ... but there was this one night ...).
However, there is the 'other side' that just keeps calling to me ... cities have museums, parks, public pools, playgroups (ok, I hate playgroups...), theatres, PEOPLE, craft groups, awesome libraries, etc... all within walking distance. And I want my son to have all this. But I don't want him to lose out on having an amazing backyard where he can freely explore, or a small farm of animals that he enjoys, or the tranquility that living among the woods provides. Sure, we are just a 45 minute ride from Bangor but sometimes that feels like too much. But maybe it isn't. I mean, maybe that is the answer? Maybe I should just learn to 'enjoy the ride'. That way we can have the best of both worlds. Hmmmm....there's a thought. But I must say, that thought doesn't cut it in the winter! I loathe driving back and forth to Bangor in the winter and that is when I become ready to put the house on the market and buy a downtown home on 1/8 of an acre within walking distance to everything.
But the next time those thoughts creep in, I need to remember the days that Isaac and I travel just 8 miles to Sebasticook Lake, where he thoroughly enjoys the water, the ducks, the tranquility ...
And I also need to remember that it is here - our rural home - where Isaac finds his greatest joys. It is here that Isaac asks to come back to every time we are away for too long. "Mama, I home now", he pleads. Then when we pull into the driveway, he will happily exclaim, "Mama, I home!" as though he had been away for eons. He, like his Mama, enjoys his own company as well as the company of trees, birds, flowers and rocks. And though he needs to get out into the world to meet and greet people and to enjoy the excitement of the city once in a while ... he is thankful to come home to this quiet space when the excitement has worn off. So, at least for now, I think we will stay right here (that is, until my Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in).



kumakouji said...

Hi Jodi,

I just happened to stumble across your blog... It's interesting you mention City Life Vs. Country life. Considering what would be best for your family, weighing up the pros and cons... I guess I can offer you my opinion of the subject.

My mother was born in a very small rural village in the midlands of England, and my father was born in the heart of London. My mother moved to London to be with my father, they had a family, and the rest is history...

I grew up in London with my younger brother. Growing up in the city is fantastic. I have memories of going to all the famous museums and sights London has to offer with my parents as a young kid. As I got older it was much easier for me to socialise and enjoy nights out since all I had to do was get on the tube/subway and I'd be in the heart of London in no time. I can also say that growing up in the city makes you more streetwise and savvy because you have to be, intrepret that as you will...

I always used to hate leaving London to go visit my mother's side of the family in their small village. The cottage, the farms, the woods, the rivers... The English countryside is beautiful but utterly boring for a teenager who's becoming independant and is eager to be experience all the excitement life has to offer.

I'm now 23. London has profoundly effected me creatively and socially, and I cant imagine being the person I am today if it wasn't for the multitude of experiences city life has given me... but as I'm getting older, part of me is longing for the countryside. Growing up in an urban surrounding, you cant help but yearn for nature at times, at least that's how I feel... looking at those photos of the lake you have on your journal makes me envious to some degree. When I'm older, I plan to live out in the country by the sea, but for now, I'm enjoying my twenties here in the city.

I personally feel that a family with young children should live in a city, or at least in the suburbs with good travel links. All of my cousins in the country can't wait to leave their parents and the countryside behind and move to the city, where as I've had the benifit of urban life and I find myself longing for nature to some degree. I think urban life is fantastic when youre young, and as you get older and mature more you slowly long for the tranquility the countryside provides.

Anyway, that's just one Londoner's view on things.

Jodi Renshaw said...

Wow, thank you so very much for your comments. You gave me food for thought. And your words are most appreciated.

Perhaps I overstate our rural life. We are just 23 miles outside of "the city" of Bangor. However, our nearest major city is Portland - which is over 100 miles away - and can be better compared to London than Bangor can.

My husband spent a couple of weeks in London a few years back and really enjoyed it... but he, like my son and I, preferred "home".

As you say, we may definitely have to reconsider our living arrangements once my son gets closer to his teenage years. Our ideal situation would be to keep our country home for holidays and purchase an apartment building (flat) in the city.

Anyway, I am off to visit your blog. And again, thank you.


Wende said...

Heh, my experience is just the opposite of the young person above. We lived out and away and it was an adventure to go to the city.

I've since spent time living in both--and the ups to raising a child out in nature, for me, far outweighs the "options" of city life, as much as I might miss the amenities. Our son has the rest of his life to find the city and "live" in it--but rural life has given him an imagination that I wouldn't trade for anything the city can offer. ;)

My guess is, no matter where you raise a child, he's going to do GREAT because you're the parent! :D

kumakouji said...

Jodi said "As you say, we may definitely have to reconsider our living arrangements once my son gets closer to his teenage years. Our ideal situation would be to keep our country home for holidays and purchase an apartment building (flat) in the city."

That sounds like a very good compromise.

When I said "I personally feel that a family with young children should live in a city" I guess what I meant was "If I had a family, my choice would be to bring them up in the city"... ultimately, it's all about what's right for each family.

And my mother, she has very fond memories of her childhood in the countryside, they used to keep chickens and goats and everything... but still, nearly all of my family has moved out of that village and gone to live in a city. I guess I'm biased towards city life because it's been such a positive influence on my life.

You seem like a wonderful family, I wish you the best whatever you decide.

Wende said "rural life has given him an imagination that I wouldn't trade for anything the city can offer. ;)"

You can be a city-dweller and still have an imagination! Haha. I was lucky enough to grow up in a vibrant, world famous city. And if it wasnt for the city I would have never experienced the benifits of growing up in a multicultural society. I know that country life is idealic, but city life has just as many advantages I think.

To each his own, as they say :)

Jodi Renshaw said...

Thank you Wende - for reminding me that I am the Mommy ... and that Isaac will benefit from whatever I choose for him, because it will be a decision made with pure love. And as I eluded to in my blog, I rather give him more of the tranquil country life .. with occasional trips to the city than to have it be the other way around. I think you and I are on the same page regarding that. Though I certainly appreciate everything that "kumakakouji" has to say on the subject.


Jodi Renshaw said...

Dear Kumakakouji,

Again, thank you for your comments, and for some of your clarifications. I suppose, like everyone else, I would love the best of both worlds! I bet where your Mom grew up was beautiful. Do you visit there at all now?

And you are right to say that the city has helped you to grow up in a "multicultural society". My son is certainly lacking in that department here in the woods of Maine. But we are trying to change that for him ... and frankly, there are more "black" people in this area than ever before. So things are changing. But I do certainly envy the diversity of the city. You are blessed to have that.

In fact, there are only one million people in the entire state of Maine (and this is a HUGE state)... and within the past three years over 2,000 immigrants from Somalia settled in mid-Maine (Lewiston to be exact) ... and now the diversity in our population is certainly shifting...not to mention that we have a very large population of Native Americans as well (and we are personally very tied to that community).But there are very few Asian peoples, Middle Easterners (my husband is Turkish), and other populations. I would love to see that change in our future.

Anyway, this comment is getting too long now. Just wanted to wish you well too. Thanks for your well wishes. I hope you visit the blog again in the future. Your insights are always welcome.


Rob and Mandy Brelsford said...

My vote is in for the rural life, but that is because it is also my personal dream to raise my family in. I think living so close to a large centre - you really get the best of both worlds. Truthfully, I would rather have the slower pace (as much as it can be with children) tranquil space as my day-to-day and the bustle of the city (traffic, lower air quality) as part of the occational. It also makes attending events in the city a new and exciting thing, my kid's truthfully don't always want to be doing something. They love the comfort of being home - and I think a house with the benefit of a large yard and animals is something most children would love to have and would be considered an ideal childhood. Truth be spoken, I am the one who needs the extra external stimulation.

I think also multi-culteralism is important, but this allows you to attend positive events which celebrate diversity and all cultures. It sounds though like you community is changing, and is not quite like other rural (what I picture mid-western American) towns.

Take care
~ Mandy :)

Paula said...

I was raised as a country kid and wouldn't give up my memories for anything. What an amazing way to grow up! I've raised my kids in town and would have given anything to give them a country raising like I had, but they've turned out pretty darn good in the end. I guess it's really all in what we know and how we were raised. Don't beat yourself up over either way. Isaac will be fabulous no matter where you live. Look at his parents!!