When Gail and Barb Vijuk moved to Oak Park in 1995, it was somewhat of a compromise. Gail was raised in a small town in northern Canada and enjoyed the quiet of small town life. Barb was raised in the northwest suburbs and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city. Oak Park gave Gail the small town vibe she was looking for and provided all of the amenities of a nearby city for Barb. Today, they are happy to be raising their three boys in a town of great architecture, interesting history and people committed to social causes.
Life today is somewhat busier than it was in 1995 – the couple are mothers to three boys from third grade through seventh grade. Like many families, work and kids' activities make for a jam-packed calendar. As their family has grown with the addition of three boys, they see the values of Oak Park every day. Barb notes, "Our family of two white moms and three brown boys feels safe and valued here. I forget that we are a 'conspicuous' family until we wander farther afield, because no one looks twice at us here."
For Gail the sense of community Oak Park provides is a key to making the community a home. "We have a wonderful school and church community here that are such a blessing to us. Our kids are heavily involved in sports, and we have found the local sports community to be another amazing experience with some phenomenal coaches who are mentors and role models for our boys. Additionally, I have found that there is an awesome and supportive community of parents in this village – from the friend who drops off a piece of cake when you're having a bad day to the supportive folks who reassure you that all parents struggle with similar issues when you think you're doing it all wrong. The openness is amazing."
With two moms in the house and a schedule full of sports, both Gail and Barb say that Mother's Day may not be a traditional holiday, but that doesn't mean that they don't take time to savor the day with their family and other moms in their tight-knit community. One of the boys likely has a hockey game, which means plenty of time together as a family, and they often bake cookies or buy flowers for the other moms on the team. This year, the family looks forward to hosting Mother's Day for their au pair's mother who will be flying in from Germany to visit him.