City Living Is Great, But Not for My Baby Boy

Jordan Reid of Ramshackle Glam is one of those bloggers who would make you so full of hate jealous if only she weren't so impossibly cool and funny. She is glamorous and sweet and humble enough to somehow make it all work -- darn her!

We love her (can't you tell?) and we think you will, too. Here is her Mother's Day contribution below:

I couldn't sleep last night.

We’re making an offer on a second house (the one with lots of space that’s a bit of a blank slate, design-wise), and while I doubt the owners are going to come down enough to allow us to get it, they might ... and I am definitely more than a little nervous. It is such a big deal. And I’m scared.

The fact is, of course, that this isn’t a decision that we’ve made quickly, or that we haven’t thought through: we’ve been circling the idea of moving to the Hudson Valley since last winter, and have spent the past year saving up and looking at places. And we are both certain that a move is what we want, both on an emotional level and a logical one: the truth is that we’re just not reaping any of the benefits of living in Manhattan these days, and city living is getting in the way of our life more than it’s enhancing it.

Plus, since we’d have to move to someplace more child-friendly (with, say, a bedroom door, and maybe an elevator so I don’t feel so trapped) within a year, we’d be talking about rent prices that are at least equal to, if not more than, the kinds of mortgages we’re looking at. And finally, I’ve lived in the suburbs before -- in LA -- and the way of life was much more to my liking: on a Saturday, I’d rather have friends over to BBQ and hang out at home than do ... well, anything. The things that we like to do best these days are just not the kinds of things that are worth paying to live in the city for.

Most of all, though, the reason we want to move is that city life is not what we want for our son. I grew up here, and I had a great childhood, but I want something different for him. I want him to have a yard to run around in with Lucy and Virgil. I want him to go fishing on Saturdays with his Dad not because it’s a big, special production involving car rentals and long drives, but rather because that’s just what they feel like doing. I want to pick up our pumpkin in a patch, not in a grocery store. I want him to have a swing set of his very own.

But it’s an enormous change for us, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary.

I’m scared that I won’t make any friends, or that I won’t make friends that are the kinds of friends that I have in my life now (which is to say, real friends rather than friends of convenience). I’m scared that Kendrick and I will fight about stupid things like home repairs and mowing the lawn. I’m scared that we’ll move in and suddenly realize that we picked the wrong place, and that we would have been happier if we had moved just one town over or to another state altogether. And you know something else I’m scared of? I’m scared that one day, a few years from now, my husband will wake up and look at me and at the life that we’ve built and think, Is that it? Is that all I get? I’m scared that he’ll think that. I’m scared that I’ll think that.

Because these towns, you know, they’re so quiet. They don’t have all those bright city lights to distract you from what’s right there in front of you. And what if, when all the lights go down, it’s not enough?

Kendrick has a friend who once said that New York City takes all the basic facets of normal human existence away from you, and then sells them back to you one at a time as luxuries. Want a bathroom that fits more than one person at a time? That’ll cost ya. A bedroom door? Five hundred extra per month. Don’t even ask about closets; you don’t get those unless you work on Wall Street.

And the thing about all this struggle -- because living in the city is a struggle; it can be such a great ride, but it’s certainly not easy -- is that it keeps you dreaming that things will change. One day, you say to yourself, I’ll move to Italy and have a yard full of lemon trees. Or maybe I’ll buy a place in California, right on the ocean. Or maybe I’ll find a gorgeous townhouse in the far reaches of Brooklyn. All you know is that where you are right then isn’t where you’ll likely stay, and there’s something very freeing in that knowledge. You don’t know where you’ll be, but you know it won’t be where you are.

Like many others I know of my generation, I was raised by parents who encouraged me to think that I had all the choices in the world, and all the time in the world to make them. We spent years being told that we could do anything, be anything -- even our liberal arts curriculums let us play around in various fields for years before choosing a major, if we ever had to at all.

And that’s great. It is, it’s a wonderful thing -- a privilege -- to feel that you can do anything ... but it also makes it really hard to finally choose what you want to do. Why should I marry this amazing guy when I’ve never even been to Asia yet? My even-more-perfect man might be waiting there for me. Why should I accept this pretty cool job offer when I haven’t even tested the waters in these five other career paths? I might like something else better. Why should I move to this one town, when there are so many other places in the world that might make the perfect home?

So I’ve found it very hard to make this leap. Because this enormous step -- buying a house -- is an incredible thing, an incredible opportunity ... but it also shuts down so many other possibilities. We won’t be moving to Italy anytime soon. And of course we were never going to -- of course we weren’t -- but it was nice to think that maybe, just maybe, we might. We could. And if we make this decision ... well, we can’t. Not for awhile, anyway.

But sometimes you need to just put on your Grownup Pants and decide, already. Weigh the pros and cons, figure out what’s important to you, argue with yourself to pieces ... but then do it. Jump.

I have to say, though -- I don’t know that I would have had the courage to make that jump a year ago. But now it’s not about us anymore, not really: it’s about a little man who smiles so much when he looks out our New York City window, even when there’s nothing to see outside but the apartment building across the way, that all we want to do is set him free to study the sky. And when we take that into account ...

Well ...

It’s not really a decision at all.

It’s just what we’re going to do.

Did you ever make a decision like this?

Our series of mom bloggers we love runs throughout May in honor of Mother's Day. Click here to see them all.



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Wheep... Wheepingchree

I recommend checking out Cornwall :)

MsRkg MsRkg

We considered it, but at the end of the day,  hubby and I decided that neither one of us would be happy living outside of the city limits permanently, and that living in NYC offers more benefits and opportunities to our son than living in the suburbs would. However we did want our son to have a backyard to play in so we ended up buying a gorgeous  4-story townhouse with a deck and patio garden on the Upper East Side. We consider his little bit of backyard to our small piece of suburbia in the concrete jungle. lol

suziejax suziejax

yep! We will actually be moving within 6 months now and I am having to make all sorts of choices and sell a house its kinda scary 

nonmember avatar Theresa

Each couple has to do what they feel is best for their family. Raising my kids in the city was a fairly easy decision to make. In fact, I hadn't considered any other option. It wasn't just that my career required it. It was because my mom moved to the most suburban town on planet Earth when she and my dad divorced when I was a kid. After four days, I moved back with my dad. Maybe when I'm older and have no desire for anything fast paced the suburbs won't seem so awful to me.

Sucro... SucroseMonkey

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and hated it.  I still hate it to this day and don't enjoy having to go visit family there.  I'm city at heart and yards and yard work are not going to entice me to change.  

I know the blogger said "It’s not really a decision at all.  It’s just what we’re going to do." but for me it would have to be a long thought out decision.  I would have to way whether or not we could deal with living in the burbs or would it make us angry?  Would we really want to have to drive everywhere all the time because stuff is so far apart? (i.e. no el trains, no walking down the street to the Jewels, etc.)  

If it's green space you want, cities always have parks. Grant park is a great place and fairly large.  

LIke previous posters said, to each his own.  My own will be surrounded by buildings and buses and humanity and everything that appeals to me in the city.

Mandago Mandago

I live in the suburbs, about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I get the quiet days, the barbecues, and the outdoors. When I want what the city offers, it's a quick trip in.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I could never live in the city permanently, especially with children. I grew up a small town girl with plenty of room to run around. I love the country. I would take a house on a small acreage in a tiny town than a penthouse in New York CIty. I'd feel claustrophobic.

Jeanie Orr Bonhoff

yes, made the move from Baltimore to a small Mayberry like town 20 years ago when our first born was only 1 1/2 years. Mostly happy with our choice but some regrets. Only you and your family will be able to know for sure if this is the right move for you all. I wish you the best.

nonmember avatar Samantha

Tarrytown is not the Hudson Valley-- it's called Westchester County. And by the sweeping generalization you made of "your generation," it sounds like you mean to say that you're entitled and privileged.

nonmember avatar Julia

I thought it was reasonably obvious from Jordan's article that she has put a significant amount of thought into the move (even though for them, in the end, it 'wasn't a decision at all" - as a figure of speech, people!) - and that this is what is right for them. Maybe a lot of people can't afford 4 story townhouses with backyards on the upper east side but the backyard is that important to them? also, i didn't read any sweeping generalisation" , i believe Jordan pre-faced that with "many i know", meaing lots of people she know's her age feel like they were bought up to have choices - nothing entitled or privilaged about that, i'm not rich but was bought up to believe if i worked hard the world could be my oyster.

I live in a suburb a 25 minute bike ride from the city, wouldn't have it any other way.

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