When did I start missing the suburban life I ran kicking and screaming from a decade ago?
There were clues. A lot of them. I was becoming nostalgic for the weirdest things. Driveways. Front yards. Wine aisles in grocery stores. When I saw any of these things on TV or in friend's photos, I would get a faraway look in my eye. I remember those things...
There would be pangs of jealousy at the strangest times. A photo of a child's room, a suburban parking lot, a folded stroller in the trunk of a car - all of these things would drive me into a spiral of why can't I have that?
A few weeks ago I wrote about being a horrible city mom. On the whole, mothers in the city really with sympathized where I was coming from. It is pretty damn hard. There are also others that believe where there's a will there's a way. They would be right, too. Somewhere along the lines I lost the will to struggle to raise my child a "city kid." Actually - I don't think that will was ever there. I forgot how wonderful the quality of life in suburbia can be. Having kids forced me to remember.
It may be a small case of arrested development that led me to yearn for a simpler life so late. At 28 I moved to New York. I was a childless artist - with no idea what the future held. Probably the biggest thing I loved about my life at that time is that I had no idea what the future held. It was liberating. I was always able to get jobs to make enough money to get by - but I never thought seriously about my future or security in those days. And I don't regret a minute of it. I just never realized how fast a decade could go by.
Fast forward 10 years, and now I am a mother of one with another on the way. I start noticing that when I look at friend's photos on Facebook, I'm silently saying to myself, Wow, they are so adult. They have a pool. They have a stairway inside their home. They have backyards and pantries. Yeah. They are adults. They're 40. I'm the only one still living like a 25-year-old.
It worked before I had kids. But now living paycheck to paycheck in a walk-up apartment with no amenities just so I can be in the "best city in the world" eludes me. Why am I doing this? If you can handle it and you love it, it's a great way to live. If you find yourself daydreaming about the comforts of suburbia - it's just stupid.
I can't wait to be able to pile the kids into the car and drive to the supermarket. I can't explain the joy that having enough storage space to buy more than one roll of paper towels at a time will bring me. A trip to Costco? Forget Broadway - that sounds like more fun than I've had in a loooong time.
I can go to a shopping mall where everything I could possibly need is localized under one roof? Genius. And I can do it all while pushing my child in a stroller because there is actually room to maneuver the thing in a sprawling suburban mall. After I buy some things I won't have to panic in the subway station hoping someone will find it in their heart to help my toddler and I down the stairs. I'll be able to load him in the car myself! Sweet serenity.
A trip to the post office won't take two hours and all of the energy that I have? Great! As it stands now - we have to walk a half a mile there, a half a mile back and then make it back up three floors with a stroller. By the time I walk through the door I'm sweating, irritated, and pretty much done for the day. The thought of being able to accomplish multiple errands without being exhausted and ready for a bath when I get home is liberating.
I can buy a quart of milk for less than five dollars and 50 cents. Ben and Jerry's won't be six dollars a pint. I have to admit I will miss the charming owners of my corner stores. But for the love of God, if you saw how much money I spent on provisions from those places you would faint. I'm not even kidding.
City living is amazing for so many reasons and I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had here for the world. But without family anchoring me here and having grown up in the suburbs - the pull to go back is irresistible. I'm not implying for a second that people don't work just as hard in the burbs. But I am saying you get more for your money, the pace of life is slower, and everything is just a little easier. With a toddler running around and another baby on the way - I need all the help I can get.
"Just a little easier" sounds good to me. I know I ran kicking and screaming from you a decade ago. But I can't wait to see you again.
(photo: Darko Zeljkovic / Shutterstock)