DEAR CAROLYN: This weekend, my husband and toddler and I will be moving from the condo I bought six years ago as a 20-something bachelorette, in the downtown area I've loved and enjoyed so much, out to a town house in the suburbs. It will undoubtedly be great for us to have more space and for my son to have a yard to play in. Even more so if we have a second child, as we hope to. But I am SAD. This condo was where most of my independent young adulthood happened, and I'm having a hard time accepting that that time is absolutely 100% over forever. Do you have any words of wisdom about how to embrace the move to the 'burbs? Motherhood is insanely fulfilling, and all that stuff, but will I get used to the new way things are?
All grown up
ALL GROWN UP: Maybe? Maybe not. Maybe your new situation will be so great that it eventually becomes the next great phase you mourn when it's over ... or your neighbors will annoy you or your neighborhood will be inconvenient or who knows. This is all a crapshoot and anyone who says otherwise is either lying or more cheerful than I am.
Crapshoot or not, though, you're going to age, and change, and your ages and changes will bring new changes, and there's no fighting it.
The best thing I can suggest to make this a positive experience versus a slow-motion sense of loss is to keep what was good about the old phases with you as reminders of what makes you happy — and to say goodbye warmly and finally to what isn't coming back. Your 20s, for example — big hug and goodbye. Your "downtown area I've loved and enjoyed so much," though? That had qualities and a vibe and whatever else that you can recognize and adapt to your new life.
You also can't lose by looking for, on purpose, the advantages your new location has over the old one. I left a beloved neighborhood myself, in D.C., but will never stop appreciating that in my current town, traffic doesn't exist.
If you struggle to find advantages to your new circumstances, then you can also decide this suburban-townhouse move was a nice try but not quite, and you can try again with a location that has more in common with your happy-condo setup. Kids grow up in cities all the time, and some of them love it, if you can afford clean and safe spaces for them and arrange for decent opportunities; kids (past the wiggle stage at least) are no different from adults in having varied preferences, from a big yard to a busy town, or a cold climate to a warm one, or whatever else. The common assumption that they all want or need a suburban yard is just that, an assumption.
This isn't to undermine the move decision — just to encourage a life-is-fluid mode of thinking. It's OK to be sad about the end of something, it means there was something to love about it; now look to the next phase knowing it's just a phase, too.