Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Guest Post: Midwest Transplant

Our second guest blogger here at MP is the fabulous Cathy who blogs at Mayberry Mom and The Full Mommy, and also runs a site devoted to family fitness. She has two kids including a son she really does call Opie. I've always loved her blog name since I stumbled upon her site and seem to hear whistling in my head when I read the title for some reason...


My husband and I went to college, separately, in Philadelphia. We met in New York City, where we both lived and worked for more than 10 years after college. Our first home was a two-bedroom condo in an urban neighborhood just across the Hudson River from Manhattan Island. Our first child was born at NYU Medical Center. We even adopted our dog from a shelter in a fairly seedy neighborhood in New Jersey.

So five years ago, when we announced to friends, neighbors, and colleagues that we were moving to a small town in Wisconsin of which they’d never heard, they all thought we were 100% crazy. What about restaurants? Culture? Shopping? Temperatures above 10 degrees?

There are actually restaurants in the Midwest, we assured them. Theaters, too. And a season we like to call “summer.” Most importantly, there was a roomy, charming, old house that cost the same as the selling price on our apartment. There were jobs that required a zero- to 10-minute commute, instead of a 60- to 90-minute one. There was a community, with neighbors that would know us and our kids. There was a park across the street, and a community pool around the corner, and a lovely library a few blocks away. There were decent public schools and child care centers.

It was a trade we were happy to make, and we’re still glad we did (although at this point in the year, the winter? Kind of a drag). Yes, we miss living in the city sometimes. We especially miss the friends and family we left behind. But as parents of young children, we weren’t exactly painting the Big Apple red every night. Dining out often and seeing the latest shows and exhibits didn’t fit into our schedule, let alone our budget.

And guess what? The performing arts center located 10 miles from our Midwestern home gets all the traveling Broadway shows (not to mention the cheesy kids’ ones too). We’ve discovered some good restaurants and a lot more time to enjoy them.

Above all that, we have the community we hadn’t quite found in New York, where our friends and family were scattered across the five boroughs and the surrounding states. Here we have neighbors who drop what they’re doing to chat with our kids or care for them if we’re in a pinch. We have friends who drop off meals during times of crisis. We have teachers and doctors and shopkeepers who really know us. We have sturgeon, for goodness sake!

I think we’re going to stay a while longer.


Anonymous said...

We're transplants too, but by dh's job, not by pure choice (although there was a bit of choosing as a couple of univs were going to offer him a job at the time). You're so right about the short commute time and affordable housing! We'd never be able to get the sort of acreage we have on the east or west coast where dh and I grew up respectively. We have enough culture and ethnic restaurants in our college town to make us happy; we get greater variety when we visit our families on the coasts. But, we love that the mid-west (we're in southern IN) is a generally safe and good place to raise our family. :)

Mandy said...

I knew we had common bonds! My brother lived in Wisconsin for 10 years, Waukesha (sp?) to be exact.

I love finding out these small tidbits about people the longer I read blogs. And like your introducer, I also whistle the tv theme song (at least in my head) when I read your blog.

Lady M said...

Having a great community is priceless!

Linda said...

One of my favorite things about living in a close-knit community is that you see people in various contexts around town. I run into my son's teacher at the library, or our pastor at the bank, or my mother-in-law at the gas station. They know us as well-rounded people, not just as coworkers OR family OR school contacts.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

I miss the city life, but I so hear you on the "trade." Overall, it's a good one.

Kate said...

Wow, I could have written this post. Since you know I was a NJ native and then a NY-er, too, I feel the same way about Ohio now as you do about your town in Wisconsin. Someone asked me recently if I would consider ever moving back if given the chance, and I just don't see myself going back to the east coast again for now. We have the same experiences as you do, with the nice neighbors, good library, etc. It's all feeling a bit settled for me now.

Yes, there is a world outside of NY!