For 20 years, Boston was my home. I love the Red Sox, think "Dirty Water" is my theme song, shoveled out from a million snow storms, and drove like a "Mass Hole." I belonged there. But then my husband got a job offer he couldn't refuse just outside New York City.
For years, I have been telling him I wanted to live in NYC. Given my profession and the fact that my current job is based out of NYC (I was a remote, "from home" employee), I always wanted to live here. And so we made it work. We packed up our things and put them in storage over a single weekend last August. We put our house on the market and sold it quickly, and my husband moved to New Jersey while we stayed behind in temp housing, letting our young children finish up their school semester.
That part wasn't easy. My son struggled mightily with missing his daddy and there was a lot of acting out. I was thrilled when, after two months, we finally put our bags from the temp house into the car and moved to our 2,500-square-foot colonial in an idyllic suburb just 20 miles outside the city I love.
But there were so many things about leaving my hometown and all the people I love that I had never banked on. It turns out, being the new mom in town isn't so easy.
This is clear in certain moments -- when we are running late and I need to get to work and my husband is long gone, leaving me alone with the kids to figure out where the lunches are, negotiate toys my son is allowed (and not allowed) to bring to school. Meanwhile, my daughter is whining that she didn't like the bagel I packed for her the night before. And then it hit hits me: I am now far, far from home, all my friends, and my entire family.
Here, there is no one. I have no one to put down as an emergency contact. No one who can come get my kids in a pinch from school if they fall off the jungle gym. There is only my husband. And me. It takes a village, and right now, we don't have a village at all.
It's not always this bad. But sometimes it is. Being the new mom in town means a lot of things.
It means as nice as that really sweet mom with the pink hat in the drop-off line really is, I can't remember her name for the life of me, and I certainly can't ask her to walk my daughter to school for me. Even though she offered.
I don't know her that well.
So I drag my little boy along with me for the 0.2-mile walk to my daughter's school. He is cold and steps in puddles, so his pants get wet. Which means I need to change him when we get home. Then we have to rush out to his school where I am confused by all the policies and often getting frantic emails from the director: "Didn't you get the memo? It's costume day."
"Didn't you get the memo, it's sharing day?"
No. I rarely get the memos because many of them were passed out before my time or because I was so overwhelmed with everything else in our lives -- like getting new driver's licenses and updating our car registrations and closing on our house -- that I didn't have time to focus in on every little detail of each kid's school. And then I feel guilty.
Being the new mom in town means I hear about the fun things after they are over. "Oh I wish I had known you had nothing to do on Sunday! We had a Tae Kwon Do class guest pass," one mom tells me on Monday, the day after we sat around our house all day because it's the dead of winter and we have no idea where the "fun" is in February in Northern New Jersey.
It means I stand on the outside of the group of parents waiting to pick their kids up when I am early, wondering if they're judging me for not having my son's coat zipped (he likes to show off his Spider-Man costume) or if they know we are new.
It means I often am overwhelmed by little things and logistics because I have no one to ask for recommendations. What pediatrician do you use? Can I have the number of your sitter? Do you like this after-school program? This preschool? This tennis instructor?
I am winging it all and some choices are hits (we love our pediatrician!) and some are misses (I can't tell you the number of bad babysitters we interviewed).
As a parent, we are supposed to be in the know. We are supposed to be in charge. We are supposed to say what works and what doesn't, so when we are vulnerable and don't know whether we can really trust the new cleaning people we found on Angie's List, that anxiety creeps onto our kids. Even when we don't want it to.
I knew moving would be hard logistically. And it was.
But moving has been hard in other ways, too. Two months here and I still am confused about drop-off times for the kids, whether or not my son should wear a costume for the holiday carnival at his school, and how volunteering in the classroom works. My children have adjusted quickly. My daughter even had a sixth birthday bash where 20 people came and fawned all over her. I get daily emails requesting play dates with her and she is beaming every time I pick her up from school.
My sensitive son is more like me. "It takes time to call a person a friend, mommy." And I know what he means. Back home, my running partner goes on without me and the friend I made in an exercise class when our daughters were 3 months old puts photos on Facebook of her little girl, once my little girl's "best friend", getting older and growing away from us.
It makes me sad and reminds me that here, 400 miles away, we don't have that. There is no one who knew my kids from birth. No one who saw me as a frantic new mom and loves me anyway. I know these things will come, but for now, I am the new mom in town and my son is right. It will all take so much time.
Have you ever moved with your family? How long did it take you to adjust?