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I Can't Believe This is Where I'm Raising Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

For the first few years of my oldest son's life, I dreamed a lot about walking him down my old street in Des Moines, Iowa, where I grew up.

I wanted to move.

After my closest girlfriend died in a car crash, I prayed for 40 days that my husband would move to Iowa. It didn't work.

My oldest is going on 10, and I'm entrenched in Los Angeles now.

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I love our friends and the weirdness and magnificience that is this city, but there's now way it will ever rank as the No. 1 place to raise children—certainly not while my kids are still kids. And yet, it's home, a very famous, very quirky, slightly seedy home.

Here's a glimpse into my life as a mom in L.A. These are 15 things that happened to me, to my kids, in just the last month. I'm pretty sure just one of these makes L.A. a unique place to raise kids, but can you image all in just four weeks? Welcome to my very L.A. mom life:

1. Stopping in front of a strip club on Sunset Blvd. and having the sweet 9-year-old I was driving explain to my 9-year-old that it was a place, "Where girls dance naked for boys." The child went on to explain that they "Volunteered. The girls volunteered and the boys were paid to go in and that the young boy would never go in there." All while I tried to put the visor down as low as possible.

2. After a week with no water due to a broken sewer, my 9-year-old only allowed himself just a quick shower due to our on-going drought.

3. Going to a movie with our oldest and having a fellow school dad plastered all over billboards in the school's neighborhood. Hoping he won't emulate celebrities.

4. Leaving the movie and having our son casually mention that the film had another little girl from class in it. Her dad produced the movie. Exchanging glances with my husband, like, this is weird, right? But to my son it is his normal.

5. Visiting my old favorite grocery store in Hollywood, where most of the customers are Hasidic Jews. Working out with mainly Armenian women in Glendale. And hanging out with coiffed blondes in La Cañada. Going out with my boot wearing liberal mama friends in Silver Lake. All in the same day.

6. Picking citrus in February. Off trees in our own yard.

[R]emembering when I was 22 and how I wondered why anyone in the world would want to live there, and then living there for 12 years and birthing three babies there and suddenly finding it my comfort zone.

7. Making my kids play in the yard with each other, in pairs, and telling them they can't go out by themselves due to a prowling bobcat and a few coyotes.

8. Asking my kids for the 100th time if they will live in L.A. when they grow up. A resounding "no" from my oldest (he stands by his desire to head East). A "yes" from my two youngest—they like to be warm, they tell me.

9. Trying to figure out where someone is from by just their accent. And enjoying all the accents: German, Danish, Spanish, Armenian, Israeli, the list goes on and on.

10. Wishing the West Side wasn't so far, so I could see a good friend who lives over there more.

11. Talking with a close friend about how they might have to move due to L.A.'s unaffordable housing prices and feeling deep sadness at the transient nature of this city.

12. Marking on the calendar for the kids when we will go visit their cousins in Iowa this summer.

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13. Tucking my kids into bed, kissing them, saying a prayer and then glancing at the bookshelves and hoping there won't be an earthquake tonight.

14. Driving around Hollywood and remembering when I was 22 and how I wondered why anyone in the world would want to live there, and then living there for 12 years and birthing three babies there and suddenly finding it my comfort zone.

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