This is a post I have been meaning to write for some time now, so please excuse the lack of usual Thursday recipe in exchange for a “behind the butter” posting. I have gotten a lot of email questions regarding our semi-recent move and how difficult it can be to move to a new city when you have young kids. I will happily share our story and experience in hopes that it helps another mama out there! Moving to a new place is HARD and can feel very isolating — know that you are not alone!
We moved to the Berkeley area this past January from a small town about half an hour away. Now, half an hour away is not far away by any means but let’s just say it felt far away! We did not know anyone at all in our new city but I had always prided myself on my ability to adjust well to new situations and I felt like I was up to the challenge. I love and thrive on change! At the time, Grayson had not yet started preschool so I was home full time with a six month old and a two and a half year old. We had yet to find a babysitter (let’s be real: I still have yet to find a babysitter).
The first month was really the honeymoon period after the moved. We relished being in a bigger, more urban city with about a thousand food options and things to do. We unpacked, met our neighbors and explored our new farmers market. I got a spot for Grayson at a small preschool and he started in February for a few days a week. But then….I got homesick. Extremely homesick. I missed my friends so much and hadn’t met a soul in our new area. It was a very rainy winter here and it rained every single day. Grayson, who had never been away from home before, brought every known virus home from school and both kids were sick (literally) every other week. I’m not saying this to complain – I’m just stating how it felt for me. And it felt like a very long and hard season. I wanted to meet friends but had no idea where to look, and since it was raining so much, we stayed home a lot.
Finally, after a month of feeling down, I told Adam that maybe I had postpartum depression. Looking back, it wasn’t depression at all – it just was just me feeling homesick (sidenote: if you think you have postpartum depression please talk to your doctor. It’s a very serious matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly). We spent our weekends back in the city we had moved from and stopped trying to plug into our new place. We talked about moving “home” when our lease was up. This went on for about three months. I felt like we had made a horrible mistake by moving here and all I wanted to do was go home.
But then one day the sun came out and Spring started to make it’s first appearance. I was able to get outside with the kids more and getting a new double stroller that I loved really helped me feel more comfortable managing them out of the house in a new place. I found a yoga studio that I loved and started going to evening classes once a week after the kids went down. It wasn’t much but it was a start. I slowly started to remember the reasons we had decided to make the move in the first place (a move that was totally our decision to make – I realize what a luxury that is) and those reasons had not changed. We still loved the added diversity of our new area, all of the restaurant options, the parks, the great schools and the things to do. We started to spend our Saturday mornings throwing the kids in the stroller and exploring new bakeries and coffee shops (not an easy thing to do with two little kids but the croissant lovers in us prevailed). We researched and attended community events. We joined a local CSA. I still hadn’t made a friend yet, but things were looking up. I realized that missing our old town was natural and I was always going to have a feeling of nostalgia towards it because that’s where I had my babies. And that is okay. We started our lives together there and it’s where we brought our boys home from the hospital. So many wonderful memories! But now we are in a new place and there are also wonderful memories to be made.
However, the real turning point for me was when I finally sucked up my pride and posted publicly on a local mom’s facebook group I was part of. I said we were relatively new to the area and I hadn’t met any friends yet…and that things had felt hard. Would any moms like to meet up at the park for a play date? For an introvert, that post felt extremely hard for me. I put myself out there in a way I don’t usually and couldn’t believe it when I hit enter. And you know what? SO MANY MOMS WROTE ME. I couldn’t even believe it. So many moms said that they, too, felt the same way I did and would love to meet up. We picked a place and a date and I hosted my first playdate without knowing a soul. It felt scary but I did it anyway. And then another and another and another. I started getting out and talking to moms on the playground and making plans – real plans – to get together. And somehow, I met a few friends who I instantly hit it off with. Phone numbers were exchanged…then first texts…and then the endless text streams. And now, it feels like I have known them for years instead of months. And we feel so thankful to live where we live and plan to raise our kids here.
So…that long story has a moral and it is this: if you are currently in a stormy, isolating season of your life for whatever reason — a new baby, a move, a loss of a job…stick it out. You have no idea what life has for you right around the corner. This hard season will end and you’ll soon find yourself standing in the sun again. You can do this. You can do hard things. Staying at home with your kids is amazing and I am thankful to do it…but some days it does feel incredibly isolating and lonely. Know that this stage isn’t going to last forever. Kids get bigger and they won’t always be sick all the time or fussing at 5pm. If you’re in a new place and your story sounds similar to mine, get out there. Talk to moms at the playground. Make playdates. Do it even if it feels hard and unnatural to you. Join a group, a church, a gym…whatever you need to to get out of the house and meeting others. You can do this.