The suburban flight is all a matter of preference...and perspective.
A few months after I had my second child, my husband and I decided it was time to move to the suburbs. In addition to my newborn daughter, we had a very active 3-year-old boy and felt he needed more space. We also wanted to save money on food and groceries and especially preschool. We wanted our kids to have their own bedrooms, if not now, then certainly in a few years. We also really wanted a playroom inside our house to go to on stormy, too cold, or much too hot days. I was further lured by the suburban comforts that draw so many young families: a backyard, fewer trucks, and more trees.
It wasn’t an easy decision. After 12 years of living in the city, we considered sticking it out in Brooklyn, but the homes that had enough rooms for us were in neighborhoods that were too far from the creature comforts we loved--our favorite playspaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, parks and gyms. So we decided the suburbs were right for us. We signed the housing contracts.
We've been in the suburbs for almost five months now, and I miss Brooklyn every single day. I'm still on the fence about whether the city or the suburbs is the better place for us. I think they both have great things to offer families.
In fact, while there is a world of difference between Brooklyn and the suburbs, for the children I don't think too much has changed. My son Jack still has preschool for 3 hours each morning, and then goes to the library or a music or gymnastics class, then naps, and then plays with his toys while I get dinner ready. My infant daughter still goes for walks and to storytimes in the morning, and then runs around to Jack's pickups and some errands in the afternoon, and then plays on the floor while I make dinner.
Even for me, much has stayed the same. The moms I meet here are as interesting and dynamic as the Brooklyn ones, coming from all different backgrounds each with their own personal reasons for moving to the burbs.
One thing that has made me fall in love with the suburbs so far, though, is driving! I feel like I'm in high school again. I get to roll down the green streets belting out, "I got a blank space Bay-BAY!" without worrying someone will think I'm crazy. And listening to NPR in the car keeps me much more informed about world news events. And while we haven’t quite had “snowmageddon” yet, I’m excited to be able to play with my kids in the basement playroom, then the family room, then their bedrooms on cold snowy days. Which means I’ll feel less holed up than I did last winter.
For a lot of reasons--and it's personal for everyone--the suburbs are easier for me as a mom. I love that I can jump in my car to go to Trader Joe's just for a few quick items, because there's no line. Rain or wintry mix, I can drive around a few corners to the gym, where I can leave my daughter with the sweet babysitters at the playroom and do a Zumba class or yoga. My nanny can walk from the train station to our house, and then walk our children to the neighborhood playground, just like in the city. My son can get his energy out by running up and down stairs to different rooms rather than just jumping on the couch.
Although we have gained each of these things, it's come at the expense of real diversity, neighborly conversations on every block, live music on street corners, built-in playdates in the building courtyard, and a strong in-building community of couples, singles, grandparents, teenagers, doormen, supers, who all looked out for each other. But the community here has been incredibly welcoming. There's a thriving newcomers club for families new to the town and I was happy to meet a lot of families making the same Brooklyn to suburbs move.
I sincerely believe I'll move back to the city in a few years, but who knows, when the time comes, if I'll be ready to give up my new creature comforts.