A Mama’s Urban Adventure to the Other Side:
By Heather Rachel Rose
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”
O.K. Let’s recap. You now know that I’m a self-proclaimed city devotee. You
know that I never really wanted to leave Manhattan in the first place. You know that I
eventually found my comfort zone in Brooklyn, and then I never really wanted to leave
that either. And you also know that I currently live in a beautiful, diverse urburb just
outside the city called Maplewood, New Jersey, where I’ve laid roots for my young girls.
The lessons here?
1. Look before you leap. And
2. You can make a home wherever you choose to root.
But, here’s another secret:
You must allow yourself to root.
Read that again: you must allow yourself to root.
I jumped so abruptly, which is typically how I do everything in life, without taking
all my wants, needs and goals into consideration. I fatefully, and I believe by no
coincidence, found a town I love. Knowing I was headed in the right direction before
loading a two-bedroom apartment onto the moving truck, however, would have saved
me trouble. And anxiety. And money.
If you’re considering a move, I urge you to make a list. Actually, make a bunch of
lists. Write some of them in quiet solitude so you can really dig deep into your
expectations. Write some of them while sitting in front of the tv, because sometimes
fleeting, unfocused ideas are the ones that reveal the most about what we want as
individuals. Write some of them as a family. Write some of them in pro/con fashion. And
when you’ve compiled all your lists, choose a few towns that interest you, and write
Talk to friends who still live in the city as well as those who have already jumped ship. Talk to
mamas and papas who live in the towns that appeal to you. This is where you will strike
gold. These are the conversations that will lead you to identify precisely what it is on all
of those lists that’s most important. Then, gather your research and write a new list
including the reasons you want to move and what you will carry, spiritually if you will, to
your new space.
Above all else, once you’ve made the decision to move, go with it. You will have
so much physical space you won’t know what to do with. Give yourself permission to
feel its effects. There are days when you will miss the city for sure. You will miss
late-night pizza runs. You will miss going out after baby is asleep because you’re out of
wine. You will miss walking everywhere. You can’t deny the differences, and you need
to feel that loss. Experience it. But if you get wrapped up in what was without any
attention to what’s new, the seeds you’ve chosen to plant won’t take root at all. Sit on
your porch at night and listen to the quiet around you. Revel in the greenery on the walk
to your child’s school. Ground yourself in this uncharted territory. You will see that you
are still the same person; it’s just the scenery that will have changed.
And remember, the city isn’t going anywhere. You can go back for a quick fix at
any time. Become the cool parent who piles their kids and their new buddies into the car
with the sole purpose of driving to your favorite artisan ice cream shop in Greenwich
Village. Just because your gut tells you it’s time to evolve to meet your family’s
every-changing needs doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all the little pleasures
of your city lifestyle. That’s one of the many reasons we are all so fortunate to live in the
The hardest thing about leaving the city for me wasn’t the actual move; it was the
adjusting. Without doing any research, I became the textbook follower. I heard about a
cool town, believed in its superficial potential, and lept. I was incredibly lucky to have
ended up in a fantastic community, and with a few adjustments, I’ve created a life I love
for my family and me. If I were to do it all over, however, I would have taken more time
at the beginning of the process, and I certainly would have sought out ways to truly take
root in my new environment right away.
Decision making and their subsequent transitions are hard. So hard. This
particular transition is an all-time, heart-palpitating, record-breaker. And yet I promise
you, the Urban Adventure is so rewarding. It is worth every list, conversation and dollar.
It really is incredible what happens when you open yourself up to learning what’s on the
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