MOM & THE CITY
At first glance, Father's Day may seem like a strange day to begin writing a column about being a mom living in Downtown Las Vegas. But bear with me.
When I began telling friends and family that my husband, son, and I were trading in our life in suburbia to move into a high-rise apartment building Downtown, the reactions were fairly consistent--disbelief, shock, confusion, criticism. The questions were all along the lines of : "What kind of place is that to raise a child?" But what I really think is the cause of the disconnect is the fact that what we're doing is outside of the comfort zone for most people. We were daring to imagine a life for ouselves that was quite unlike what people had grown to expect of us. We were altering their perception of us, of our lives, of our family, of who I am as a mother.
By most standards, I grew up in a fairly traditional, Southern home. My Mama (yes, I'm from the South) stayed home with my sister and me while we were growing up. My Daddy (yes, Daddy) worked hard and did all of the traditional Dad stuff like mowing the lawn, reading the newspaper, and not being particularly engaged with his kids. He was the stereotypical father-figure in many ways, except for one really important way that still shapes the decisions I make today. He taught us to think for ourselves, to decide what is right for us, and to fearlessly walk that path regardless of what anyone else thinks or says. Definitely not the traditional, 1970s Southern way to raise a daughter--trust me.
And it's that deeply ingrained belief that I can decide for myself what I want my life to be that is at the heart of my family's decision to move Downtown. It's not a perfect place; it's evolving, and we want to be part of that evolution (or revolution). When the decision was made to move, well, the only thing keeping us in the 'burbs was inertia. That's not a good enough reason not to take a chance, to try something new, to live life according to your own rules. At least, that's not what my Daddy taught me.
Quite frankly, that's what I want to teach my son. He's only nine years old, but I've been telling him for years that he has to "be his own man." When he's facing conflicts with his friends or when other kids are making what we as parents refer to as "bad choices," I tell my boy to "be his own man." In other words, what I want, maybe most of all, is for my son to grow up to follow his own path. Even when other people may not understand why it's the path he's chosen or where that path might lead, I want him to fearlessly follow it.
The thing about Downtown Las Vegas, is that it is a place populated by people who do just that--follow their own paths. So when I'm asked what it's like to live Downtown and how does my kiddo like living here, the answer is easy. It's amazing. It's the kind of place where people speak to one another on the street. It's the kind of place where people say they are going to change the world and have no doubts that they will. It's the kind of place where I want my son to grow up---a place where there are no limitations on who you are and what you can be. And while it may seem non-traditional, it's very traditional for my family. What matters most to all of us is that fierce independence, the willingness to be who we are without giving a sh#t what anyone else thinks.
I think we're going to be just fine living Downtown. Just fine.