When I was 19 years old, I decided to leave the village I grew up and study in a city, which I knew nothing about. The main and most important criterium back then, was that is situated over 200 km from my place of birth. I simply dreamed about big city life with a total new beginning and fresh start. When somebody asked me where am I coming from, I would always answered with a name of the nearest town, where I went to the high school. I was simply ashamed of my rural background.
Today I am 36 years old and I went back to my village to raise my daughter here. I lived in Wrocław, Oslo, Vienna. I know the charms of urban life, but I came back to the place I ran away from many years ago. Why would I do that? Because the balance of pros and cons of living and raising a child in the city and in the countryside has clearly indicated the place on earth for our family. At least for now, when Ruta is still a small child (in 3 weeks she is only 2 years old) and she has everything she needs in our idyllic village, but maybe one day it will change.
The city is definitely attractive: with its cultural offer, cafes where you can spend time well with children, with their trends in raising children: wearing a sling, healthy food, Jesper Juul, etc. . . In the city you can always “do something”, always find a cure for boredom – visit a new playground or zoo for the 100th time or visit a puppet theatre. In the city, everything is on hand and available. The question is, however, whether this is the case, and this is the most important thing – that everything is at hand? And is there anything missing in the city?
Our family lacked space, greenery, wind and intimacy, which is why we chose the village, rejecting the charms of the city.
The city is a fantastic living space, but it is in the countryside that we can blur the line between what’s inside and what’s outside – for most of the year the door of our house is open, which causes the constant movement of Ruta and our dogs giving them a feeling of freedom. It is in the countryside that we have deer behind the fence, and hares cross our road. It is in the countryside that we have peace and quiet, and the favorite noise are birds chirping in spruces and birches and halny blowing from above the mountains. We don’t know traffic jams, we don’t know how to waste time moving around unnecessarily, we don’t know the stump of our neighbours above us, unless we consider martens and mice flying in the attic to be such. There are no attractions, it can be boring, especially in late autumn and winter, when darkness falls early. However, this does not bother us, because you can always read books or dance.
The choice: living and raising a kind in a big city or village depends on the individual preferences of the parents and later on the growing children. And it absolutely doesn’t have to be a choice forever. Now we live in the countryside and we are happy with everything the village gives to Ruta, but maybe one day we will come back to the city, because
the city is also cool. The most important thing is to spend time together and live together, not separately, but whether in the countryside or in the city is a secondary issue.
Author: Iwona Nowak is a historian, trainer, NGO worker and a keen cyclist. Together with her husband Krzysiek, two dogs and a cat, they raise two-year-old Rutka in a village near Cieszyn, right next to the Czech border