I’m excited to welcome Rebecca Harman to today’s Living With Kids. Rebecca lives in a beautiful historic neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia in a completely charming home. I’ve never seen so many fireplaces! Rebecca is also a dancer and opened a neighborhood dance studio called (fittingly) The Neighborhood Ballet so that she can share her love of dance with dancers of all ages and skillsets. Welcome, Rebecca!
My husband and I are the parents of three kids who fill our home with boisterous activity! We have two elementary-aged sons and one preschool-aged daughter. My husband, Steven, is a software engineer. I am a former professional dancer and the founder and artistic director of Rise City Dance and Neighborhood Ballet.
Steven and I met through mutual friends at a local bar and restaurant in a very cool neighborhood in Atlanta called Cabbagetown. We are very much opposites. If you know the enneagram, I am a 4 and he is a 5. I’m artsy and creative and he’s got the mind of an engineer. I, on the other hand, cannot follow directions and he does things by the book. Opposites attract in this case, and our differences help to round us out as a couple.
Our boys love camping and digging and building structures in our back yard. Our little girl loves ballet like her mama. They go to a Waldorf school that we love very much.
We live in Grant Park, which is a wonderful neighborhood in Atlanta. It’s full of old homes and small, locally owned businesses right in the center of an ever-growing city. The pandemic only brought us closer to our neighbors and we live on a dead end street where you can find kids playing basketball and riding bikes on any given day after school.
One of my favorite things to do is to walk around Grant Park. It’s not just the beautiful old Victorian homes; though there are a TON of those, there’s an air of creativity, energy, and community. I also have a small business in the neighborhood, so it’s really fun to see my students and their families out and about. We feel like we are in a small town inside a big city sometimes.
When we started our family and looked for a place to call home, we really wanted to find a historic home in Atlanta. A home in Grant Park was definitely a dream come true. We’ve bought and sold a couple houses in Grant Park before finding the one that feels like “the one” for our growing family.
We both valued the craftsmanship of older homes over a newer build. I love collecting vintage pieces and antiques and I have a masters in heritage preservation, so a historic house was a no brainer for me and I was able to talk Steven into it.
I love to imagine all the feet that have pitter pattered on the heart pine floors over the past 125 years. Babies were born and people passed on in this house. Some of the former owners and residents are buried nearby in Oakland Cemetery, which was established as Atlanta’s municipal burial ground in 1850.
Our home became ours through a lot of design, collaboration, and DIY. I envisioned the spaces in our home to be eclectic and fun, with lots of personality and knick knacks. I have somewhat of a Victorian granny style, and my most treasured items are our family pictures and family heirlooms that my aunt has passed on to me.
My husband and my in-laws rolled up their sleeves and have made several renovations happen, which has saved us a lot of money and has helped us to make the house the home of our dreams. We are about to completely renovate the kitchen, which we not attempt to DIY.
When we moved in, we had so much work that we wanted to do, but we did not have the time and money to do it. We’ve had to be patient and work on things as we are able to. We’ve been in our home for almost six years, so we have had time to really get to know all of it’s quirks. My husband and in-laws have done quite a bit of retro-fitting plumbing and electrical. That’s one of the hazards of buying a historic home. Things we think of as standard now didn’t even exist when the house was built initially and were added on piecemeal by various owners over the years.
My dance studio, Neighborhood Ballet, was born because of the Grant Park and neighboring Ormewood Park neighborhoods. A friend commented to me how a dance studio was needed in the area, and suddenly a light bulb went off for me and I became passionate about creating a space for dancers of all ages that would bolster a love of dance while also calling for excellence.
Dance was my first love, and I was there in a neighborhood that I felt so connected to, all while looking for my next career move that would enable me the flexibility to be with my kids when they were little. It was so hard to start a new business with two little ones, but it was worth every sleepless night. The community we’ve built through the studio has enriched many lives and has given me a renewed purpose in my life. Dance is a life-giving, cathartic, energizing form of expression, and it is so satisfying when I get to see dancers access that creativity and energy.
The biggest thing I’ve had to learn is flexibility. I had all of these ideas of keeping my home life and my work life separate, and I’ve had to make peace with the fact that sometimes that is just not possible. There are days when my kids have to come to the studio, I have to answer emails while on a family vacation, or take emergency calls as I’m cooking dinner. In business and as a parent, I’ve also had to learn that it’s okay to ask for help. I am learning to delegate and my husband is very supportive of the division of labor in running our household.
The best part of being a working parent is that my kids see me trying to build something meaningful and special. There are days when it’s really hard. COVID was devastating and I thought that I would lose the studio. It was terrifying and I was really scared and we were all home together and they saw that.
On the other hand, my children have been along for the ride as I made something out of nothing, and I hope that they will remember that. I love my job very much and I love that it allows me the creativity and space to continue to grow and be creative.
I think my mom superpower is the way I really strive to not let my ego get in the way of my children’s path. They each have their reason to be on this Earth and I want to observe and gently guide them but for them to have the freedom to discover their gifts, wishes, and desires. I tell them they are here for an important reason — to make the world a better place — and I know that they will.
As my kiddos grow up, I hope they remember the strong sense of community we have. Living in Grant Park, committing to our historic home, and building a business in the neighborhood has made our home a lot bigger than just the walls of our house, and I want my kids to always have that feeling.
My absolute favorite thing about living with my kids, is when they are all together, in harmony. The other night, all three of them were at the table painting with watercolors and having a calm but funny conversation and my heart was fluttery at the sight. It feels like we are often off in our own directions, but when we are all gathered together and everyone is getting along — it’s the best.
I am a very nostalgic person, and I miss everything! I miss yesterday. I have been working on being in the present moment but that is really hard for me because I am always thinking. The moments that I am fully present with my kids, no matter the mundane task, those are my favorite memories and the moments I miss the most.
I wish someone would have told me that my uniqueness and my creativity are my superpowers. I never could have dreamed that I would have started my own company, never mind that it would be a success. I felt very out of place in the corporate world and I thought something was wrong with me because of that. Once I had my first child, I realized I could not go back to a job that did not speak to my soul, and that was what called me to create Neighborhood Ballet.
Thank you, Rebecca. The charm of this historic home is so evident. And you can tell that Rebecca and her husband made really thoughtful design choices as they remodeled. Things feel modern and bright and liveable but all of the original character is preserved and intact. So fun to get a peek!
I really appreciated what Rebecca said about being kind to ourselves in regards to balancing working and parenting. Sometimes one or both of those things is going to be out of balance. We can’t always do everything perfectly. So it’s okay to sometimes let things slide, or get drive-thru for dinner, or not do the dishes, or to save that email for tomorrow so you can leave work on time.
How do you keep balance between your work life and your parent life? Do you have really concrete plans or rules or do you just kind of play it by ear? What has worked for you?
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.