Going Placidly Beyond The Noise And Haste

October 15, 2007

(Voila – now with picture!)

We – Wonderbaby, Her Bad Father and yours truly – live in a house that is one hundred and twenty-plus years old. It is small and creaky and dusty and in a condition of perpetual renovation. It sits on a quiet street in an old Portguese neighbourhood – one that is less and less Portuguese with every passing month – that is very near the city centre, on its west side.

The neighbourhood is a busy one, a mix of families and elders and disaffected renters who may or may not be involved in the underground economy. Our neighbours are lovely, although truth be told they sometimes hover too closely (the elderly couple on one side of us have strong feelings about the fact that I do not take full-time care of my daughter, that I have ‘outside interests,’ that I sometimes travel and not take her with me. I have been known to refrain from stepping out onto our front verandah, for fear that Mr. will interrogate me – kindly, of course, but nonetheless interrogatively – where is Baby? Why Baby not with you? Mother should be with Baby.) The street itself is constantly undergoing renovation, as its Victorian rowhouses are bought, one by one, and gutted and brought into the 21st century to be sold to families like us. And although the street is quiet, by city standards, it is still a city street, with many vehicles that sometimes go too fast and many, many sources of noise.

We have loved the noise and the bustle and the feeling of humanity pressing in on us from all sides. We have loved the places to go and the people to see, the non-stop parade of activity on our doorstep. We have loved not being bored, not being boring. But we have also not loved it. Sometimes, it has been too much – the noise, the haste, the crowds, the speed at which time flies when every step out of the door is the first step of a rush into a crowd. Sometimes, the city has pressed down upon our shoulders and made us to feel its prisoners, caught in a cage, pressing our faces against the grates to get a sniff of fresh air, to see a glimpse of sky.

We have felt all the more caught – I have felt all the more caught – by the restriction of space, by the noise and the haste, since WonderBaby was born. We have yearned to escape. We have wanted out. We have wanted to be bored, to be boring.

It’s a cliche, of course, this feeling: to feel a hankering for big yards and wide quiet streets and playgrounds devoid of condom wrappers, once one has a child. To wish for space in which one can put a tree fort, a sandbox, ride a tricycle. To yearn for quiet, for just a little bit more quiet.

Cliches, however, are cliches because they speak of a common experience. I am not at all embarassed to admit that I have been having an experience that is common, that is ordinary, that is run-of-the-mill. I have been falling out love with the city. We – This Bad Family – have been falling out of love with the city.

So we started looking for a little something on the side, and we found this:

In a village, just outside the city, on a quiet street just a few blocks from the shops and the espresso bar and the bakery and the bistro and the library. A short stroll from the Montessori school and one street over from the big Victorian house with the pool where they give lessons to all the neighbourhood kids. Around the corner from the town museum, and not too far from the zoo. Very near the commuter train line, a quick trip into the city that we can’t give up entirely, and where we’ll certainly keep a little flat. An old house, but a bigger house than the one in which we currently reside (four bedrooms, oh my heart), with all the quirk and character that we love and with a big yard and lots of trees and lots of ivy and a wrap-around verandah for sitting outside and sipping tea on cool evenings. Not the city, not the suburbs; somewhere in between.

Somewhere right for us.

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    Laural Dawn October 15, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Maybe I’ll see you on the GO Train! (don’t worry – I’m not a talker I’m a wave, smile and go on reading person).
    We moved for similar reasons. Yes, it’s cliche, but I’ve gotta say that we have not been happier than when we decided to follow our hearts and move out of the city. It wasn’t right for our situation. Life is less stressful now.
    I still come to toronto every day – and we bring our son often. He still knows what the subway is!

    slouching mom October 15, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Oh! It sounds perfect!

    Avalon October 15, 2007 at 11:36 am

    It sounds like a wonderful place; the perfect mix of culture and privacy. I hope it works out perfectly for the Bad Family!

    ewe are here October 15, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Sounds perfect! Can’t wait to see a picture.

    Assertagirl October 15, 2007 at 11:53 am

    The town will be improved for your being here…can’t wait to be neighbours! (Don’t worry, respectful, not dropping in unless invited to, neighbours, although my door will always be open to you!)

    Steph October 15, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto (Durham Region) but lived in North York for the last three years. In May we bought our first house back in Durham by the lake. I commute into Queen’s Park each day. We are not city people. The friendliness of the people, the calmer pace of life, the proximity of essentials, the safety and cleanliness- we will never live anywhere else or dream of raising our family elsewhere. There is a strong, deep in your gut feeling that you know you are doing something powerful and important for yourself and your family when you find that truly perfect space and home. Congrats.

    Jordan October 15, 2007 at 11:59 am

    I can understand those feelings. This sounds right for you. In fact, it sounds downright amazing!!

    Mrs. Chicken October 15, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    We lived in a wonderful loft, in a converted optics factory, when The Poo was born. Located in the heart of downtown, the neighborhood bustled with nightlife, our favorite indie movie house, and the top music conservatory in the nation (no, not Julliard).

    we moved when she was just under a year old, to a lovely Dutch Colonial in a neighborhood bordering the ‘burbs, a short walk to our local library.

    You’ll be so happy there. I know it.

    Beck October 15, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    We moved to a little bitty town when The Girl was two – wanting quiet and family and a big yard and the whole family thing. And now we live in an enourmous old man of a house with a yard the size of a football field and most of the time it has been a WONDERFUL decision.

    mayberry October 15, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Sounds ideal!

    Attn Blogger: Knock it off so we can see a picture.

    Janet October 15, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Congratulations! It sounds like a lovely place to be a family.

    As my friend who lives in Toronto says, “This is a wonderful city to visit. Mostly I just go to work, go home, eat dinner and read.”

    motherbumper October 15, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Damn. Double damn. Oh poo – I am happy for you but damn I’m upset for me. Let me go cry and get over myself. Don’t you love how selfish I’m being?

    But seriously, I am happy for you and the entire family.

    Kyla October 15, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Sounds perfect. Wonderful.

    BOSSY October 15, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Bossy wishes you the best – sounds idyllic. Need an interior painter?

    Hannah October 15, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    We moved after our first was born, and we’ve never regretted it. Huge yard, friendly neighbours, but close enough to town to still escape to the bustle if we need it.

    Good luck.

    b*babbler October 15, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Congratulations! It sounds perfect. All that grass, and space, and room to play!

    With any luck, we, too, will be abandoning the city for greener pastures in the near-ish future. As we’ve been making the decision, I’ve often been left with the feeling that my love of the city comes from a snobbish part of myself that enjoys the ability to describe myself as an urbanite, as opposed to enjoying the urban experience itself.

    crazymumma October 15, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    oh Badness. How wonderful for all of you.


    Melissa October 15, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I am so pleased that you were able to find a good fit. Needs and desires change and that is just a fact.

    Granny October 15, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    It sounds wonderful and if you can manage the flat in the city as well you’ll have the best of both worlds.

    My Keyboard Voice October 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    It sounds wonderful. I only to moved into the city after Punkinhead was born and have slowly come to love having everything within walking/ biking distance. But still, I’m yearning to get back to a quieter place with a little patch of green to call my own. Your spot sounds just perfect. Good luck!

    Don Mills Diva October 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    That’s one of the reasons I love Don Mills (have you looked in Don Mills?) – huge yards (we have 3/4 acre on a ravine), so much space and yet a 12-minute drive from downtown. It’s a somewhat undiscovered area so the prices while high(like everywhere in Toronto) are not as insane as in some neighborhoods…

    Lisa b October 15, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    I think about moving all the time. The village sounds just perfect.

    lala October 15, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    sounds dreamy

    mothergoosemouse October 15, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I wish we could have found a happy medium such as what you describe. Fingers crossed that it works out!

    kittenpie October 15, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Ack! No! Wait! I selfishly command you to stoppit! Oh, damn. We are goihng to miss you around here. But at least we’ll always have Chicago… oh, and the blogosphere! I hope it’s everything you want, HBM. I do. I’m just being a brat.

    Her Bad Mother October 15, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I’m not moving back west, sweet Kittenpie – just down the 401 some kilometres! I’ll be around Toronto as much as ever. The GO system runs late, so nights out with non-alkie drinkies are still on the menu… :)

    nomotherearth October 15, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    It does sound lovely. You almost make me wish I was giving up the city too. I know Mr Earth would move out if I said yes, but I’m not sure I can give up the city life just yet. I admire the courage it takes to make such a decision and envy your upcoming happiness.

    But…you had better be visiting the city too!! Please tell me that future playdates are still an option..

    Phoenix October 15, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    It sounds amazing. I hope you guys truly love it. Love the picture by the way. That wrap-around verandah is awesome. :)

    The City Gal October 15, 2007 at 3:42 pm


    Please post that beautiful picture soon. We will miss you in the city and you might ocassionally miss the Subway :)

    Niksmom October 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Envy. Sounds beautiful and perfect for Her Bad Family! :-)

    mrinz October 15, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Sounds just great for a family. And the essentials are still close (espresso bar, bakery etc)

    Alley Cat October 15, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I guess it has been made official then. Congrats!

    the weirdgirl October 15, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    That’s exactly where we live; not the suburbs, not the city. We can walk two blocks down to dinner or two miles for a concert. There are huge posh houses, and little starter homes, and condos, and social-services houses. It’s all very, very mixed. Some streets are wide and some are small but there is still SPACE. And everyone walks everywhere so the crowds are always people from the neighborhood, at the coffee shop or the bakery or the farmer’s market.

    We have rockers on our front porch where we can sit in the evenings as everyone walks by. I really love it.

    -The Shiny Happy Mama- October 15, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Congrats! Enjoy your new space. Between here and there is often the perfect spot :-)

    iheartchocolate October 15, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Who needs a picture with words like that!?

    Sounds heavenly. Are you really doing it? I would actually like to see a picture, can’t wait!

    ImpostorMom October 15, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    That sounds absolutely heavenly!

    pkzcass October 15, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Sounds wonderful! I am jealous, although I actually live in a similar area (at least similar to the place wierdgirl lives). Sometimes I wish there was a little more space between houses, because when it snows, there’s just no where to put it. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful neighborhood to live in. I wish you all the best and look forward to a picture and reading all about your new adventures in citurbia.

    Mamalooper October 15, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Pre-Monkeygirl we lived right downtown – Queen & Spadina downtown. Loved being able to walk anywhere and loved all the different types of people. And was quite mixed of feeling when we moved a little north (still on the subway line!) to a neighbourhood more family-friendly.

    For a while I thought that we could have stayed there with the girl. Then I started to see the ‘hood through Mommy-eyes. Used condoms, beer bottles strewn about, aggressively-wacky homeless people, crowds and noise and dirt.

    More room and quiet and green grass but still with access by subway to everything is just lovely.

    Your new place sounds great – not downtown and not the ‘burbs.

    TB October 15, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    It sounds like a lovely concession. Jeff and I have always been urban dwellers too. We lived in hip walkable neighborhoods in renovated homes. I would have loved to have found something like what you describe where we are now, but it’s all one big suburb.
    So I tell myself we have done the right thing for Myles and I sigh when I look at pictures of our lovely old neighborhoods.

    Redneck Mommy October 15, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    It sounds truly lovely.

    But it would be lovelier if it were down a dusty dirt road in the sticks of Alberta….

    Congratulations. May Wonderbaby scuff the walls with love.

    flutter October 15, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    It sounds absolutely wonderful.

    painted maypole October 15, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    i have always wanted a wrap around porch and the ability to WALK places. Can I move in, too?

    (and how will you bid farewell to the pirate across the street!?)

    bubandpie October 15, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    We’re in the process of looking for our perfect Victorian house in the quaint small town, half an hour from the not-quite-as-big-as-yours city… I can’t wait to see yours. (Try another browser – Firefox has been working fine for me.)

    Blog Antagonist October 15, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve been out of love with the city for a loooooooong time, but we’re stuck. But someday, we’re going to have that character home in an amazing neighborhood.

    I’m happy for you! That house looking fabulous.

    Ruth Dynamite October 15, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Perfect! When can I come over for tea?

    (Love the ivy. Love the porch.)

    motherbumper October 15, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Damn, now that I’ve seen it I completely understand. It’s perfect.

    Gabriella October 15, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Oh what a beautiful house! Congrats HBM, I know you’ll be happy there!!! When’s the housewarming!

    Serendipity, baby! October 15, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Awesome! If it’s a village east even better (we need more people NOT into monster trucks) outside the city. I can recommend great places for walks in the ‘shwa for sure. :)

    moosh in indy. October 15, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    You grownups, making babies and buying houses.
    Someday I’ll get to be one too.

    Mom101 October 15, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Four bedrooms? I didn’t know such a thing existed. I am sighing along with you.

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