When I was seven months pregnant, we decided to move our little family out of Brooklyn and down to suburbia. City life was wearing on my pregnant, weary bones. Add a toddler to the mix, and our day-to-day existence was becoming harder and harder. We lived in a third floor walk up. We were both freelancers. I supplemented our income by waiting tables. Our life was one giant city hustle that was frankly just getting really exhausting.
When I moved to Brooklyn over a decade ago, I immediately fell in love. I took to the city with an ease that proved the years I spent yearning to move there I was right. I felt like I was home. But life is easier when you are single and have no children; I had only myself to think about. My days were mine and once I was done with my routine obligations the city was my oyster.
I always knew I wanted children, so when I fell in love in my mid thirties it seemed like the next natural step. So we had them. The city was still doable with one child. The second one sort of slapped us to our senses. We were going to have to leave. Our apartment was too small and we couldn’t afford childcare. The city that once embraced me was turning its back on me. I know that may sound ridiculous – but that’s really how I felt. It’s amazing how financial stress can blind you to just about everything else. That’s what happened; we got stressed, we got scared, and we left.
Funny how you can be in the ”greatest city in the world” and stop appreciating it because you are just to damn tired to cart your family around everywhere. Life changes and we have to change with it. Yes, I love Brooklyn but our love affair has become rocky at best.
When my husband and I realized we would be paying the same amount for a three-bedroom home with a backyard in Orlando that we do for our tiny one-bedroom, third floor walk-up in Brooklyn our choice was made. Then I went to Sperling’s and realized that making $50,000 a year in NYC was the equivalent of making $26,000 a year in Orlando meaning we’d only need to make $26,000 a year to live the lifestyle it would take $50,000 to live in New York. No wonder we always feel broke. By Brooklyn standards we are.
That’s a quote from a piece that I wrote before we left.
So now we live in the suburbs. My family is close. We have a car. We have a nice, comfortable house with a yard. I garden, we take our child to Gymboree, we are within walking distance to plenty of beautiful parks. But every time I see an image of the city I left behind I have a deep ache in the pit of my stomach. I miss the city. I miss the culture. I miss the way the streets were always alive. What the hell is wrong with me?
Is it just the nature of parenting that when you decide to do it you have to abandon a bunch of shit that you love? Did I just get scared and abandon a city that loved me back too soon? I’ll never know. For the time being we’re here – and my kids love it. I just have to remember that saying, “Wherever you go – there you are.” All the doubts I had about parenting aren’t going to magically disappear because I am in the suburbs. And as far as missing city life – I can bring all the aspects that I once thought were intriguing about raising a kid in the city right to my children – even if we are in suburbia.
Obviously, where we live now is not as ethnically diverse as New York, but I can still expose my children to different cultures. They can taste different foods, visit museums and get lessons on being street savvy from their city-dweller parents. They were both conceived in a big city – so we can tell them stories about it and maybe give them the same pull that I had to one day explore it on their own.
Having the scope of your world move from a giant, bustling city filled with tons of friends to one, comfortable but lonely, household is not easy. I have to just remind myself that I didn’t just do it for my kids, I did it for my own sanity.
And frankly, a couple of good girlfriends will probably rectify this whole situation.