Like many a city parent, I hear the call of the suburbs. Despite my own love of urban living, parenting energetic children makes me long for a yard and tree-lined neighborhood where Helena and Lucas can enjoy their independence, no-brainer schools and a garden where I can sink my hands into the dirt.
My own internal city-suburb mud-wrestling match is the same as every other city-dwelling parent: City is accessible to work and fun adult activities like theater, screenings and good bars. Suburbs afford families space, green, good schools and fun kid activities like bike riding and playing with other rich white children. But as a single mom, I have another weighty factor to consider: Who would I date in the suburbs?
These past few weekends some like-minded friends and I have been venturing out to some mind-blowingly attractive towns. Tarrytown, Westchester, with its funky, charming downtown that made me swoon. Maplewood, N.J., with neighborhoods so adorable I wept with desire. I was swept away in fantasy living, stalking 1920s houses on Zillow, giddily gossiping with friends about the best elementary schools. But my suburban lust was cut short when I walked around and thought:
Where are the cute guys? Oh, there’s one. But he’s wearing a ring.
A quick search on OKCupid — my main source for meeting men — netted few prospects in the suburbs on my list. Will I be forever lonely and miserable if I move to a place where I dream my kids would thrive? Is it better to give my kids a happy mom in the city, or a miserable suburban mom where they could enjoy all those communities can afford them?
“Stay in the city,” says my friend Jenny, who recently moved with her husband and three preschoolers to Long Island after a life in the city. “The people out here suck. Plus, they’re all married. You’ll never meet a guy.”
I appreciate the fact that part of the reason I enjoy dating so much at this time of my life is that I live in New York City, which has perhaps the greatest concentration of smart, interesting and creative single men in the entire world. My feelings about being a single mom would be very, very different if I lived, say, in my hometown of Sycamore, Ill., population 17,000. Sure, Tarrytown or Maplewood are within a reasonable train, bus or car ride into Manhattan. And hello!? There are datable single men in the suburbs, too! But the reality is that the population overall is less dense, and the concentration of creative professionals like myself are fewer.
But now is when I need to listen to my own advice, and remember to stay open to the magic of dating and romance. After all, of the two men I’ve been involved with in any serious capacity over the past few years, one did live in the suburbs, and the other had just relocated from one.
And if I am a cool mom living outside of New York City, there has to be one special guy who does, too.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.