Between Child-Rearing and Urban Rehab
I’m not a mom. And it’s not just because of the obvious anatomical reality that I’m a guy. I honestly just don’t think I could survive it. It seems to me that being a mother requires a fortitude reserved mostly for epics about great supernatural conflicts and an unflagging and perfectly virtuous champion. They’ve always been the ultimate unsung heroines, elevating society and holding it together, all while making sure the next generation brushes their teeth before bed.
Forget Joan of Arc. Your mother is every bit as legendary, and she brought you into this world.
In fact, I think that if you filled Congress with moms for a day and gave them free reign, you’d solve any and every healthcare, educational, and foreign policy issue currently on the table. And they’d still have enough energy to oversee you cleaning your room.
My own mother was beyond herculean—raising five kids even while my father was deployed and running a jackhammer to remodel our bathroom while the kids were at school. Then she listened to me complain about algebra when I got back and found it in her heart to give me a hug, tell me she loved me, and offer some of the mac and cheese she made for dinner. I couldn’t do that.
But there are millions of women who do, daily pulling off feats that would leave the rest of us curled in a ball crying for our own mothers in a fit of ironic insanity. They’re here in Herron-Morton too, and even though I’ll always think of my mother as an unmatched saint, I know at least one mom here who deserves her own written epic.
When she isn’t in full-on superhuman mode as a mother of four, Katie White works as an Accounting Manager at Core Redevelopment, playing her part to make Indy happen. And even with all that on her plate, she was gracious enough to welcome me onto her porch and give me her perspective on life here.
Katie and her husband Adam, a finance and administration controller at the Indianapolis Symphony, were married in 2000, and, after living in Fletcher Place for five years, relocated to Herron-Morton. Since living and working here, she has managed commercial real estate, worked at Herron High School, and even served as a board member at the Harrison Center.
As one of those rare individuals determined to leave the city better than they initially found it, Katie works at home and downtown to build up her surroundings in all the best ways, both as a mother and as a member of a redevelopment group.
She says she does it because, “as you get older, it becomes more important to form the context your children grow up in.”
This she explained to me while pulling a pair of roller skates onto her three-year-old son’s feet, which was right after she asked her eldest daughter to pull some Chex Mix out of the oven.
As a home, the White’s location in Herron-Morton is the perfect platform to form that context, and there were multiple reasons Katie points to for moving here. She and her husband wanted to be intentional as they selected a neighborhood to move into, and since they loved the space, people, and communal spirit that they saw here, they decided to pour into it as well. It didn’t hurt that they found the perfect older house, constructed in 1910, with a spare lot next door for the kids to play in.
“When we first came here nine years ago, much of the development to the south along 16th street hadn’t happened yet,” Katie said.
Now there are shops opening, houses going up, and new people moving in every day. As Katie sees it, the community that drew them here in the first place has grown even more drastically than the physical space has. In fact, the neighborhood dinner party they began to host several years ago had to split apart into two fully-functioning groups that now meet in different locations every week.
Katie trusts that the neighborhood has, and will continue to benefit her children for years to come as well. Between going to the Oaks Academy, being able to bike anywhere in the area, and seeing the creative art constantly displayed at the Harrison Center and elsewhere, they’re getting a broader range of experience than certainly I ever did.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, Alaina and her friends went to a First Friday open house at the Harrison Center, and she was upset that all of her friends wanted to socialize rather than see the art,” Katie said. “What eleven-year-old is like that, unless they’ve grown up in an environment like this?”
With four kids to manage and all the responsibilities that come with being a working parent, it’s a load off the mind to trust that the community you’re weathering the elements in is a good one. Even superheroes can use some help, and some of the time (or a lot of the time, if I remember my childhood), that looks like a network of families and friends to raise your kids and live life next to.
“Before we moved here, the word ‘community’ just meant the people you live next to. Now it means ‘family’ to us,” Katie explained. “It’s people really wanting to know one another instead of just borrowing sugar on occasion.”
“I don’t see that connection in a lot of other places.”