Dear Diary,

The city is an ironically quiet place. No, I didn’t say noisy, or crowded or noisy. I said quiet. Oftentimes when I’m reading my book on the bus, or zigzagging through crowds with concrete underfoot, I can’t help but hear a roaring nothingness in the sound of all the people that clamor into our small, but electric city. The vacuum-like noises coming from buses roaring by mixed with the chirps of birds that must have their say, create the perfect backdrop for my family life. And believe it or not, that’s our kind of quiet. As I stroll through streets gripping my son’s hand, or my husband’s, I am grateful that all of this fuss was created just so that we can live our best lives.

Here are five reasons why I’m raising my kids in an urban environment.

1. City Park

Our budding family first lived in New York City before trading in the Big Apple pants for the Steel City. One of our favorite things to do then, and still now, is finding and exploring city parks. While Pittsburgh doesn’t have as many parks as we’d grown accustomed to in Brooklyn, our new neighborhood has breathtaking trails. For my family, park exploration has become a tradition. Learning the perennial plants of that region, watching the wildlife and carving our family name in one of the city’s oldest trees are some of our exploration highlights.

2. The Arts

Culture Museums, performance halls, history centers, art centers and the list goes on and on when you are a city dweller. These cultural extensions provide a real opportunity to teach your kids the way of the world without ever traveling more than 30 minutes from your home. My children have seen the Lion King on Broadway, watched the cherry blossoms bloom and fished in the local Audubon. Opportunities for educational enrichment are endless when you live within busing distance of a museum or other cultural center.

3. Diverse Playmates

My oldest son went to school with children from Russia, Egypt and Ecuador by the time he was eight and one friend’s mother was a first responder at the Twin Towers during 911. My child has had the opportunity to see the world from the perspective of children from faraway countries and differing circumstances, all within his zip code. Done correctly, living in the city gives your child a real chance at being a well-rounded and informed adult.

4. Date Night

It’s not just dinner and a movie when you live in the city. No, no, no. My hubby and I whisked away on Hot-air balloon rides and immersed ourselves in nature at urban garden tours. The city gives couples the opportunity to spice it up when things get too tough or too boring.

5. The Noise

I find it difficult to sleep when I just hear crickets. I know that I said it was quiet, but not a traditional type of quiet; just my kind of quiet. Silence is boring. There’s something about yelling passers-by, dogs barking and children jumping on mattresses that were set out for the garbage (yes, honey) that helps me think. The loudness let’s me know that everyone has a voice that is worthy of being heard. It re-affirms my commitment to other humans, and not things. It gives me hope that the world is not just waiting on me and that we will all some day, and in our own way, rise to the occasion.

Hey DFTM Fam–Where are you raising your children? Did you pick the city over the suburbs?

About The Author

Cindy Mendoza
Urban Mom

Cynthia Mendoza is a wife and mom of three boys ages 12, 5 and 6. She writes about raising children in the nation's most livable city: Pittsburgh. Her interest are raising African-American boys, urban gardening, blogging and non-traditional education. When not writing for DFTM, Cynthia manages Pittsburgh Brown Mamas, an organization she founded that assist African-American mothers in enjoying their journey and advocates on behalf of impoverished moms of color. In addition, Cynthia is an audio journalist at American Urban Radio Networks and blogs at Brwn Mamas.

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