I’m A Great City Girl, But A Horrible City Mom

city parentI’ve had a 10 year love affair with New York City.

When I moved here, I felt there had never been a woman so suited for city living as I. Everything immediately fell into place. Everyone always talks about how hard it is to get by in the city. I’m sure we’ve all heard the cliche – If you can make it there… Well, for me – New York City was a piece of cake. It embraced me like a long-lost friend. Everything about city living just made sense to me.

Apartment hunt? No problem. I found one easily on what ended up being named the “best block in NYC” a few years after I moved in. A job literally fell into my lap days after I moved here. The subway system? When everyone else looked baffled and irate – I got it with an ease that even I was sort of shocked by. I could hail a cab anywhere. I had the touch. Seriously. I was like a female Fonz – with all things city falling in line beneath the snap of my fingers.

I started working at very popular — you could even say landmark — bar in Brooklyn. There I met a second family. Even though mine was thousands of miles away, holidays were filled with love and community. I met my now husband on the corner of my block. I know my postman, the corner store owners and all of the ladies that sit on their stoops. Brooklyn lifers afford me the respect of an honorary native.

It turns out though, that NYC is kind of a no-strings-attached kind of lover. As soon as my child arrived, everything changed. Now I’m a city parent.

I’d seen the women struggling to get strollers up three flights of subway stairs. I’d seen toddlers bundled so tightly in winter it was questionable whether there was really a child behind all of those layers. I’d seen women carrying groceries, stroller, and toddlers menacingly up Brooklyn stoops. It just never really sunk in.

Parenting is a thousand times harder in the city. Anyone who says anything different needs to come to my house and give me a crash course in city-motherhood because clearly there are some things that I am just not grasping.

I know there are people that live in elevator buildings, have backyards, and can afford a nanny and food shipped from Fresh Direct. I’d like to think that their lives are just naturally easier than mine – that they are more suited for being a mom in a place like this. But I’m not even sure that’s true. I know a woman who is filthy rich, lives in an a brownstone duplex that she owns with a backyard, a car, and all of the conveniences that I am missing. When I told her I was moving, she said, “I don’t blame you. Raising kids in the city is impossible.” The quizzical look on my face prompted her to add, “I know I have a car, but I still have to park it six blocks away from my house and drag my two toddlers home with my hands full of groceries. It sucks.”

So why do we do it?

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You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Victoria

    Wow, I’m a NYC mommy and I don’t find it nearly as hard to live here as you do. Where there is a will you find a way to make it all work, I have a 5 yo and twins on the way and not thinking about moving out of NYC any time soon.

  • Anonymommy

    Well, lucky you, Victoria. Guess everybody isn’t the same after all? Who knew!?!?

  • latoya

    I am with you, though I can’t convince my husband to leave Brooklyn. We live in an elevator building, have a nanny (share), and are about to start getting Fresh Direct because we never make it to the supermarket and end up spending a ton at the little expensive deli on our corner–and we are still struggling. Childcare is more than our rent! We live among beautiful milllion dollar homes with backyards but we will never have one. I feel like this city is for rich people and I wish we were coming with you to Florida!

  • K.

    Yeahhhh.. I did the Manhattan mommy thing and …no. Admittedly, I’m the sort of person who tired of having that many people in that small an area, everywhere and all the time, before I was saddled with a kid and all the accoutrements. Dodging rainstorms, trying to leap over gray-brown curb sludge in a snowstorm, running up frozen slippery metal steps trying to catch a subway transfer, dealing with some jackass on 6th Ave., jostling through crowds with groceries–all of that is a PITA, as it is. Try it with a kid in tow.

    But what really was the clincher for us was the realization of the age old truth: NYC is awesome if you have nothing or if you are loaded, but sucks if you are in between. 20-something, living in a 5th-story walkup shithole with 5 other roommates and 1 bathroom, $1 pizza slice for dinner, and dive-bar hopping on Friday nights? No problem. 40-something, nice townhouse (owned, of course), with kids in private school, car transport everywhere, and Met Opera benefits on Friday nights? Sure. But our reality was looking like never owning our own home, always having to compete for coveted spots in equally-coveted public schools, saving less for retirement, college, etc. And both of us are educated professionals, btw.

    Believe me, there are many, many things I also adored about NYC and many things that I’ll love sharing with my kids on visits back. But different places are more synergistic with different points in our lives. New York represented my single 20s, and I remember it fondly, but some things you just outgrow. Maybe you did too.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      Yes – I absolutely look forward to sharing the city with my kids in the future… on vacation!

  • Melody

    Yeah, I live in the city with my 3 kids and I pretty much never leave the apartment. Navigating the trains with the double stroller is such a nightmare, not to mention lugging the damn thing up and down the stairs to our 3rd floor walk up. I practically salivate during minivan commercials. :(

    • AP

      Double-strollers should not be even ALLOWED on trains.

    • Melody

      So how exactly should I be getting around?

  • JulesInFL

    We were in a very similar situation. Very happy young professionals, living in DC, newly engaged, when we found out we were pregnant. We both make good incomes, and yet the thought of moving a baby into our 1,000 sf apartment (huge by our standards, but suddenly not so much), or moving to the suburbs… it was rough. Not to mention that any daycare near our building and work ran about $2,000/month. Plus weather, plus no car, plus schedules and stress.

    In my 7th month, my husband got a job offer in Florida, and my company was OK with me working remotely. I still make DC pay, my husband took a minor cut, and we live like KINGS down here. Our 3-bedroom house might as well be a mansion as far as I’m concerned, and I can pop the baby in my SUV and run errands whenever I need to. Plus no bundling up EVER.

    For those of you in cities, my hat is off to you, and I still envy some elements of the lifestyle. But with a toddler, we wouldn’t be doing many of those things anyway. I NEVER could have fully appreciated how great this move was for us until we actually did it.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      Thanks for your story – and for making me feel good about my decision!

  • RandomGirl

    I always wanted to live in New York…when I was single and no kids on the way, I used to scan NY craigslist all the time…never got the chance though. I am thankful now that I live in Oklahoma, with a kid on the way and we have a 3 bdrm, 2 bath house with a garage and yard that costs us less a month than rent of most studio apartments in New York!

  • Mo.momofbo

    Seriously urban mommying is hard in portland I can’t imagine nyc, Even though I love nyc and if I was a single non mommy would relocate in a heartbeat. I am begining to lust after the suburbs too. Good luck

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