As a rule, mothers defy neat categorizations or stereotypes. We all contain multitudes and contradictions. However, after a life spent in Richmond, I have observed a certain stratification of the larger mothering society into distinct tribes or clans, largely determined by geographical area, with certain notable exceptions. In other words, there are some pretty distinct types of moms in Richmond – each of them fabulous in their own way.
As someone who has lived in four unique areas of Richmond, including the city, the West End, Southside, and Goochland, I have been able to observe these types of moms in their natural habitats and detect fascinating variations in behavior, language, and customs. After years of careful observation and study, these are my findings.
The Near West Enders (not to be confused with the Far West Enders):
Trademark: Old Richmond families living in Old Richmond houses. Their baby gear game is always on trend. It’s truly impressive.
Language: There is a particularly frequent usage of the words “smocked,” “nautical,” and “river house.”
Custom dress: Lilly Pulitzer, Barbour, and Vineyard Vines for the elders, Buttons & Bows for the youth.
Education: St. Catherine’s, St. Christopher’s, or St. Bridget’s. That’s not to say that you won’t find the kiddos attending public school at Mary Munford, but they often join the rest of the tribe in middle school.
Watering Holes: Café Caturra, Toast, and The Continental.
Primary Food Source: Libbie Market.
Preferred Calisthenics: Tennis at the club.
Relaxation Behaviors: Weekends at their river houses, summers on the Outer Banks.
Diversional Activities for Offspring: Ballet and soccer, pool memberships at Ridgetop, tennis lessons at the Country Club of Virginia.
The Far West Enders (aka the Short Pumpers):
Language: Suburban Sprawl Slang. Conversations are peppered with the words “mall,” “SUV,” “HOA,” and “that new shopping center, no not that one, the other one, the one with the Smoothie King.”
Trademark characteristic: Avoidance of the city, because after all, they have everything they need right here! As a general rule, they enjoy things that are new, clean, and comfortable – and who can blame them.
Custom dress: Lululemon, Nordstrom, and Loft for the elders, Janie and Jack or Gap Kids for the youth.
Education: Public school. They’re new and uniformly well-regarded, which is one of the main reasons this tribe lives here.
Watering Holes: Tazza Kitchen, the restaurants at Short Pump Towne Center, and Portico.
Primary Food Source: Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Preferred calisthenics: Spin class or Zumba.
Relaxation behaviors: Cryotherapy, infrared saunas, or whatever new spa treatment is trendy.
Diversional activities for the offspring: Public libraries and playgrounds, Deep Run Park, train rides at Short Pump Towne Center.
City Folk (aka the Cool Moms):
Language: Intellectual and fast-paced, with frequent talk of daycare pricing and waitlists, zoning issues, parking law changes, and foodie trends.
Trademark: A fear of the suburbs. I mean, why would you leave the city?!
Custom dress: Need Supply Co., vintage, and Anthropologie for the elders, H&M and small boutique brands for the youth.
Education: A diverse mix of public, private, parochial, and charter.
Watering Holes: Can Can, Scott’s Addition breweries, The Hill Café, The Roosevelt.
Primary food source: Ellwood Thompson and Farm Fresh.
Preferred calisthenics: Running or barre.
Relaxation behaviors: Girls nights at rooftop bars.
Diversional activities for the offspring: City parks/playgrounds, The Science Museum, the VMFA.
Southsiders (aka everyone on that side of the river rather unjustly lumped together as one big group):
Language: Warm, conservative, and Southern, think lots of “y’all,” “bless her soul,” and “Jesus, take the wheel.”
Trademark: Wholesome suburban cheer and lack of pretention. Southsiders know how to have a good time and are not above some endless salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden.
Custom dress: Loft, Athleta, and Macy’s for the elders, Old Navy and Carter’s for the youth.
Education: Mostly public (because why not, they’re great) with a polite smattering of private and parochial.
Watering holes: Tazza Kitchen (the Southside one), The Hardshell at Bellgrade, The Boathouse at Sunday Park.
Primary Food Source: Wegman’s and Costco.
Preferred Calisthenics: Bikram yoga or group fitness classes.
Relaxation Behaviors: Regular mani/pedis at an affordable nail spa.
Diversional Activities for Offspring: Splash pad at Stony Point Mall, Children’s Museum, Metro Richmond Zoo.
The Northsiders (aka the Bellevue Bohemians):
Language: Relaxed and progressive, peppered with phrases like “gender normative,” “rain barrel,” and “cloth diapers.”
Trademark: Funky and cool.
Custom dress: Vintage or boutique for the elders, Tea Collection and Toms for the youth.
Education: Proudly public at Holton or attending a small, unique private school like Waldorf or Veritas.
Watering Holes: Dot’s Back Inn, Kitchen 64, The Mill on MacArthur.
Primary Food Source: Kroger and CSAs.
Preferred Calisthenics: Membership to the YMCA.
Relaxation Behaviors: Reiki or float pod therapy.
Diversional Activities for Offspring: The Children’s Garden at Lewis Ginter, performing arts classes at SPARC.
The Westover Hills Mamas (aka a cross between City Folk and Southsiders, with a sprinkling of Northsider traits):
Language: Very similar to the language heard at an REI: lots of talk of bike gear, camping supplies and living your truest life in the great outdoors.
Trademark: Outdoorsy families who want a yard but, like their city counterparts, are also afraid of the suburbs.
Custom Dress: L. L. Bean, Madewell, and North Face for the elders, Target for the youth.
Education: Mostly private and parochial, with a smattering of public and charter.
Watering Holes: O’Toole’s, Laura Lee’s, Legend Brewing Co.
Primary Food Source: South of the James Farmer’s Market, Richmond Food Co-Op
Preferred Calisthenics: Biking the Buttermilk Trail, hiking, walking dogs in Forest Hill Park.
Relaxation Behaviors: Sunbathing on Belle Isle.
Diversional Activities for Offspring: Maymont, feeding the ducks at Byrd Park.
Country Mamas (aka mothers who live in Goochland, Powhatan, Amelia, Chester, and any other rural area outside of Richmond):
Language: Practical, direct, and plainspoken. You’ll hear a lot of talk of barn chores, cow rearing, and a mysterious custom known as “mutton-bustin’.”
Trademark: These moms can raise a pig and a baby with equal ease, and appreciate the simple things in life.
Custom Dress: Carhartt, camo, and Levi’s for the elders, Carhartt, camo, and Levi’s for the youth.
Education: Public or homeschool.
Watering Holes: Literal watering holes. Or down-home, no-frills places like The Sunset Grill in Goochland or the County Seat in Powhatan.
Primary Food Source: Their backyard. If you can grow it yourself…then why not?
Preferred Calisthenics: The chores and tasks of everyday country life.
Relaxation Behaviors: Stargazing, hammock swinging, and trail rides.
Diversional Activities for Offspring: Did I mention mutton bustin’?
And sure, no one fits any stereotype perfectly. That’s the beauty of human diversity. But, we love that Richmond offers so many unique pockets for so many unique types of moms, dads, kids, and families in general. Hopefully, you can find yourself in here somewhere and have a laugh while appreciating the fantastic aspects of life here in Richmond – no matter where you live!