Her Bad Mother

Monday, October 15, 2007

Going Placidly Beyond The Noise And Haste

(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.


Blogger Laural Dawn said...

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!

11:10 AM  
Blogger S said...

Oh! It sounds perfect!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Avalon said...

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

11:36 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

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

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!)

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

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

11:59 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

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.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

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.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds ideal!

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

12:27 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

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."

12:30 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

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.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Sounds perfect. Wonderful.

12:50 PM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

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

12:58 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

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.

1:11 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

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.

1:12 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

oh Badness. How wonderful for all of you.


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

1:20 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

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

1:45 PM  
Blogger Dig it Forward said...

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!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

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...

1:50 PM  
Blogger moplans said...

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

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds dreamy

2:20 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

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

2:40 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

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.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

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... :)

3:00 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

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..

3:33 PM  
Blogger Phoenix said...

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

3:36 PM  
Blogger The City Gal said...


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

3:42 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

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

3:43 PM  
Blogger merinz said...

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

3:54 PM  
Blogger Tania said...

I guess it has been made official then. Congrats!

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

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

4:26 PM  
Blogger iheartchocolate said...

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!

4:31 PM  
Blogger ImpostorMom said...

That sounds absolutely heavenly!

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

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.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:14 PM  
Blogger flutter said...

It sounds absolutely wonderful.

5:56 PM  
Blogger painted maypole said...

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!?)

6:09 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

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.)

6:18 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

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.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Perfect! When can I come over for tea?

(Love the ivy. Love the porch.)

7:31 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

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

7:58 PM  
Blogger Gabriella said...

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

8:27 PM  
Blogger EUC said...

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. :)

8:57 PM  
Blogger moosh in indy. said...

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

9:39 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

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

10:59 PM  
Blogger SM said...

Oooooh - that's gorgeous! I love it! How wonderful....

11:04 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I would give you a kidney for that house. It looks perfect.

11:43 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

Yes four bedrooms -- tis bliss. Congratulations to you all. Good luck.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

that is MONEY, bad. you rock it, girl. that house is perfect.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

Oh, it's lovely! That porch...oh, that porch.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered that you live in my general neighbourhood (between Dundas & Queen/between Ossington and Dufferin..no?) and now you're moving. To a lovely house and a seemingly lovely village.

We're going to renovate our old Victorian and ignore that which we do not like. (I find if I don't wear my glasses a lot of the garbage seems to disappear!) My children, however, are insanely jealous of our friends with bigger backyards. And old enough to vocalize that sentiment.

9:40 AM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

Gorgeous! Congratulations to her bad family. We talk about 'the move' every now and then, but I just can't quit you, T-dot.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful! And I completely empathize with your longing to be bored and boring, in a less busy place. Me too.

10:16 AM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

It's lovely! I covet that porch!

10:17 AM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

That is just PERFECT, HBM. With that extra person on the way, you are going to love the space. Awww. Now I can imagine you sitting on that verandah. blogging.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

OOHH, now that I see the picture I get it completely. That is gorgeous!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

What a beautiful house - I love the ivy. It reminds me of the house my husband spent his formative years in. Congrats!
We also moved when I was pregnant with the boy. We had a few great years in the city, first around St. Lawrence Market (love); then Bloor West Village(double love). If we could have afforded what we were looking for at the time, we would have stayed in BWV.
But there is something to be said for having more than a raccoon crawlspace between us and the next door neighbours, and a backyard that can actually house a soccer game or two. The city still beckons and we always head down at least twice month. I only hope that transit gets better especially when the kids get older, so there are more options for them to get around.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love, LOVE to be able to walk to, well, anywhere from my house. I am so happy to hear that you found the perfect home for the new Bad Family!

11:07 AM  
Blogger karla said...

Beautiful home! Just beautiful. I have always wanted a home with a wrap-around verandah.

Before we had kids, my husband and I were thisclose to buying a condo downtown. I love Toronto, but, I also love the quiet of my little nest in the suburbs.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

It soumds perfect!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

That is an absolutely ADORABLE house.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Magpie said...


2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's beautiful! We're firmly in the suburbs here, but I looked at many houses in villages-on-the-outskirts like that. Couldn't convince Gruff to live in a house more than 30 years old, though. One day I'd love to move into a beautiful house like that.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:26 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Is it really yours? Because it's lovely. Just lovely, with loads of character.

(And a side note. How come every time I come here, there are 69 comments on a post? 69! Every time. HBM knows what I've been up to!)

8:59 PM  
Blogger tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

Beautiful! Love it. Best wishes for the new home.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks breathtaking. Where might such places exist? Near Toronto?


Much happiness to you all!

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


it's so lovely! congratulations.


12:02 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Sigh. That sounds lovely.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

My, but I love a brick house. We live in a small town, under 4 hours to Boston, NYC,and Montreal, 45 minutes to Albany. We walk to the farmer's market each Saturday, drive one car for a daily 3 mile RT commute and generally love the simplicity. Sure, there's no sushi at 2am or 24 hour book stores and gyms, but really, once you have kids (or even before that) did you ever take advantage of that stuff, or just brag loftily about the option?

I think it looks lovely!

But one thing, I think the neighbors get nosier the farther you get from the city, or maybe I just drew an exceptionally short straw.

10:07 AM  
Blogger chichimama said...

How beautiful! Congrats...

4:48 PM  
Blogger Sharon L. Holland said...

Hey! That looks like my house! Though we spent much time and effort killing our ivy. Nasty stuff for houses.

Congratulations on your new home. I hope you fill it quickly with warm memories.

2:02 PM  

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