The Big Move

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    One Reason I Want To Stay Here

There’s a big part of Working Mom that wants to move to the Midwest, where she grew up. It’s scaring the shit out of me.

San Francisco is just ludicrously expensive, and it’s not a kid-friendly town. Unless, of course, by “kid” you mean that goatee-bearing comp-lit grad student who pours coffee at Peet’s. Those kids are what this city (“The City”) is built for, but “kids” in the old-fashioned sense — you know, little newly-born people — are an anomaly.

Catastrophically, it was me — damn fool — who first brought up the idea of moving. Why would I do that? Well, if you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that for my first several months as a stay-at-home dad I felt lonely and overwhelmed. Back then, sitting by myself in the playground every day, the idea of a neighborhood with family friends, Boobaby’s grandparents, my wife’s childhood church — well, I guess all that potential community support was attractive.

Now, though, I’m plugged back in. I’ve convinced the moms at the playground to talk to me. I’ve made a new friend. I’ve returned to some of the volunteer work I do with kids and animals. My life is organizing itself here, making sense again, and as always, I feel at home in San Francisco. But since I brought it up, WM has been talking more and more about moving: showing me houses online, talking to people about jobs, extolling to me the virtues of Midwestern hospitality (and playing down the snowiness).

But here’s the lowdown: I’ve wanted to live in San Francisco since I visited at 16. I came to a college nearby and moved into town even before I graduated, thanks to the “earthquake discount” in the rents back then. I love this city. My life’s work is here: before going into the stay-at-home dad gig, I was a marine naturalist. Marine, as in “ocean,” which are notably absent from the Midwest. Except for that brief patch of despair last year at this time, I’ve been a deliriously happy San Franciscan and Northern Californian for 20 years. I love it, love it, love it.

But I hear myself saying “Me! Me! Me!” What would be best for Boobaby? And isn’t she the priority? The last time we visited WM’s hometown, I saw kids walking the streets — 8 or 9 years old — without fear, knowing that the community at large was looking out for them. That’s not a feeling you get around here… if we stay here, Boo wouldn’t be able to walk around on the streets until she was, I dunno, 18 and a black belt in some debilitating martial art. If we moved, there would be better schools. And it’s not like I would suffer too much: WM grew up in a perfectly large Midwestern city, mind you, not a small town, so there’s good coffee and everything.

I feel like such a hypocrite. I follow Mom-101, and this line from her post about moving sticks with me:

“I’m trying to choose my family over my city. My future over my past. My child, and her need to have two happy, united parents…”

I even commented on that post at the time, telling her how brave she was, how she was making the right decision for her child and her family. Now, I am selfishly acting in exactly the opposite way.

I’m choosing my city over my family.

My past over my future.

Me, in the end, over my child, and my family.

I’m such a putz.