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Raising A Child Solo: Location Matters

I spoke to my friend, Nic, over the holiday weekend. She's my age, lives and dates in NYC and works in the beauty industry. When I told her I was pregnant, she gifted me a Gucci duffle bag, then a Gucci diaper bag. I think it was her way of dealing with change--LOL. We spoke about my move back to NYC this weekend...

I was living in New York City when I discovered I was pregnant and since my boyfriend decided to bail I couldn’t exactly afford to rent an apartment solo and something told me my random roommates I’d met on weren’t going to be up for a new, little roomie. When I left New York City on that balmy summer evening in July, I remember watching the skyline twinkle against the deep purple sky until it vanished completely—kind of like me. I was no longer a 20-something urbanite with a cute boyfriend trying to make it in the magazine industry. I was pregnant. Single. And headed to a one-bedroom apartment in North Jersey. I vowed to move back when I could afford it.

Well, my son turns three in August and I’ll be honest, I’ve run the numbers and I can afford it. If I can afford a brand-new Jeep, gas, maintenance and car insurance on top of what I pay now for my two-bed condo, I can afford to ditch the car and all its expenses and live comfortably in the city. But, I’m not going anywhere. In a way, the city has lost its luster to me.

Here’s why: My home is in North Jersey. When JD and I are cruising towards our condo complex and see the brand-new buildings pop over the horizon, he points and squeals, “I see our house mommy.” He attends a pre-school that is minutes from where we live and when I pick him up, his arms are overflowing with art projects. The whole ride home he tells me about how he played trucks with Ben, painted a lady buggy with Miss T and made a new friend named Nia. The lady at the green market knows our names and gives JD a cookie on our weekly visit. We also have new friends. Friends we see at least four times a week and plan epic daytrips with (A Day Out With Thomas here we come!). I’m talking about my mom friends and their toddlers. I love this group. JD has his fun in the sandbox with Katelyn, while her mom, Kelly, and I talk about fashion and politics and OK, sometimes the strange eating habits of our kids. Kelly and my other mom friend Amy, are two reasons why I feel settled here and connected. I may have friends in NYC, but I don’t have mom friends there.

My childless girlfriends, God love them, have their own busy lives. Everyone is working, dating/in relationships and not spending afternoons at the park or mornings at the grocery store buying yogurt drinks and cheese sticks. Sure, they visit—for an hour here, an hour there, but I realized a long time ago that I either embrace this new life with my son or I live in the past. Well, I can’t live in the past (and I don’t want to!). I don’t have time for long, leisure, boozy brunches in SoHo and JD isn’t sitting through them. I can’t stay out until 3 A.M. because JD wakes up at 6 A.M. A lot of times my friends don’t understand my absence, but I don’t see it that way at all. I’m a mom and JD comes first. In fact, I never question their absence from our lives. I laughed into the phone when Nic tried to rationalize me (us?) moving back to the city. “I visited my friend and her baby for an hour today. I’ll visit you too.” OK, what do I do the rest of the time? Make new mom friends? Find new friends for JD? For what? For me? To say I did it, prove to everyone I could and did move back? I have nothing to prove to anyone. I miss NYC, but I don’t miss it that much anymore and, uh, it's twenty-five minutes away. We can visit whenever we want then come HOME to our spacious condo, grassy courtyard and swimming pool.

 I’ll end here and how I did this weekend when Nic said, "just move to NYC." It's not about me. It's about my family and my family is JD.

Did you move when you found out you were pregnant? Do you miss your old stomping ground? Do your friends beg you to return?