What are the benefits of having two hearts
Two hearts in one chest. About suburban life - guest contribution by Sophia
I have a hangover. A wonderful, boozy evening with very different women is behind me. In the only Mexican place far and wide, we met for the annual "Mama-Evening" of the local day nursery. We talked about children, work and men, laughed and drank. At some point the question came up:
"So how did you end up here?"
The place we live in is one of the ugliest communities I know. It is located 20 kilometers from Munich, consists of two main streets and boring residential areas with row houses and front gardens. There is nothing special to see here. The bus connection to the S-Bahn station is patchy, it doesn't run at all on Sundays. So you walk along the long Bahnhofstrasse, past the only butcher, the only delicatessen and the only beer garden. Until you finally get to one of the three S-Bahn trains an hour to escape to the big city that will save you.
So how did I just end up here?
For five years I lived happily with my partner in a three-room apartment in the Englischer Garten, right next to the tram station. We loved our jobs, after work we met up with friends to swim in the Isar, go to a café or watch the latest movie.
Then we got married and I got pregnant. Suddenly my view of our home changed. Where would our child play outside - on one of the overcrowded playgrounds? Where could we plant vegetables, keep a pet, build a sandpit - on the three square meter balcony? Where should the grandparents sleep when they came to visit us - in the walk-through room on the couch? They all lived several hours away. I couldn't imagine raising a child here, I wanted a big apartment with a garden. I wanted our child to grow up the way I was allowed to experience it myself. With nature, freedom and space.
We started looking. And they weren't the only ones. Once we got hold of a viewing appointment, we competed with 20 other couples. They were narrow apartments with tiny gardens, hundreds of meters from the nearest green. We never got the contract. So we advertised in the regional newspaper. There too: 20 advertisements that sounded exactly like ours: “Young couple, soon to be three, is looking for a large apartment with a garden”.
But then, two days later, we received exactly one call. We had never heard of the place before, we had to google it. A medium-sized community on one of the S-Bahn lines. My husband immediately said: I'm not moving to the S-Bahn area! Way too far out. But at least I wanted to have a look at it. It was a row house. With a bourgeois front yard. A stone lion with a Bavarian coat of arms watched over the fence post.
The neighbor cleaned her stone slabs with the high pressure device. Terrible! Once inside we were amazed: so many rooms! And a cute garden just for us. The field began around the corner, the view stretched far: many fields, the Olympic tower, behind it the Alps. We had two weeks to think about it, then the house would be given to someone else. I made a pro-con list: guest rooms, vegetable patches and commuting versus cultural activities, cycling and high rent. The arguments balanced each other out exactly.
So what should we do?
Out of gut we decided yes. When I moved, I was seven months pregnant and howled like a castle dog as I cleaned our beloved city apartment for the handover. "Remember exactly what you dream the first night!" Said my friends. I couldn't remember it. I fearfully paid attention to every negative detail in the new environment. Wasn't the annoying noise of the nearby motorway to be heard after all? Wasn't the first floor a little too dark? The neighbors too stuffy? Nature not nature at all, but monoculture?
Until the birth I functioned, commuting bravely and awkwardly to work, trying to find the positive sides. The nearby bird watching tower, the nice owner of the Asia shop, the great offers for children. When it got warmer, I spent a lot of time in the garden. The view ended at the partition wall to the neighboring garden. What a bleak life!
After the birth of our child, I had a lot of time. I pushed the stroller through town, past the same houses and gardens, and got bored. Trying to establish contact with other mothers was unsuccessful. In the postgraduate course, I couldn't imagine being friends with any of the women. They kept talking only about their children, husbands, pets and gardens.
More and more often I took the bus to the S-Bahn and drove into town to meet my old friends. There I couldn't believe that I had traded this fantastic, colorful city life for a bland existence in the suburbs. Had I been forsaken by all good spirits?
Children are happy where their parents are happy. You don't need a garden or a guest room for the grandparents. You need a happy mom. And our child didn't have that. I was heartbroken. Google asked, "What to do if you've made the wrong decision?" And toyed with the idea of persuading my husband to retire.
So why am I still here getting drunk with other mommies at the Mexican?
Because at first I just persevered. I wanted to give the place a chance. So I went on the offensive: I talked to every mother who pushed a stroller. Six gave me their numbers, three I got along well. I signed up for courses: baby massage, pekip, baby swimming. A contact arose from every course. I gathered the contacts in a WhatsApp group and networked the women with one another. We met spontaneously in the only café, one of the playgrounds or at the quarry pond. Together we drew up a list of suggestions for improving the place, one we brought one to the mayor personally. I asked for more flower meadows as a counterpoint to the corn fields. Two months later they were sown. I saw: sometimes it is also good to live in a smaller place, here you can help shape a lot.
Five months after the birth, I went back to work, from home, 10 hours a week. Another eight months later, then 30 hours, partly in the Munich office, partly at home. I went back to my old orchestra, even if I had to drive 50 kilometers in the car every Tuesday. It was like a release. Bit by bit I regained my life. I wasn't bored anymore!
The older our child got, the more I saw the positive aspects of the place. Here every child got a place in the single day nursery, they were just enough. The playgrounds were never overcrowded. The library was cozy. Puky was wonderful to drive on our play street. The children in the row house settlement visited each other in the gardens or played in the yard. We parents took turns taking care of things or we met on the bench with a cool cyclist.
We spontaneously invited ourselves to a barbecue, borrowed tools and helped cut trees. There was always something going on, so it could stay that way.
I longed less and less for weekly cinema evenings, a selection of cafés and the overcrowded English Garden. However, I always accepted invitations to the city. What a pleasure to dance at a shared apartment party, to enjoy a concert with friends or to visit a museum! All of this was only a 25 minute drive away. Two hearts were now beating in my chest. I took advantage of the big city much more intensely, but looked forward to going home afterwards. Here my gaze could rest on the horizon and my soul could recharge my batteries while gardening. New people whom I had come to love were waiting for me here. Here was my heart. In the ugliest church I know, but also the warmest.
Home is where your heart is - whether in the city, the suburbs or in the country - it doesn't matter to me. I firmly believe that you can be happy wherever you can pursue your interests and where the right people are around you. Just like the funny women from yesterday's mom evening. I'm looking forward to the next round of cocktails at the only Mexican!
Lisa Harmann has always been curious in all directions. She works as a journalist, author and blogger, has three children and lives in Bergisch near Cologne.
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