When the lights go down in the city
And the sun shines on the bay
Do I want to be there in my city, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh?
Every time I hear this song by Journey, I realize that while my extended family may be north of Mobile Bay, my heart beats on the Eastern Shore.
The first “tour” we did in Fairhope, AL was in the 90’s and I fell in love with everything about it on day one. I’ve joked that when we had to move with the job to Mississippi three and a half years later, I left claw marks all along I-10 west.
My first visit to Point Clear was in 1994 and while I was strolling the streets of Fairhope, I thought to myself, “this would be a great place to raise a family.” My comment to my husband later was “this little town reminds me of Mayberry,” to which he replied, “Only in color!” Two years later we were building a house and moving to our “Mayberry – in color” home-away-from-home.
I was very nervous about starting our family life completely over in a new city. While we were building, I had several people tell me that Fairhope is “clique-ish” and we’d never fit in. I even had one person ask me where I was from and when I said, “Birminha-am” in my southern drawl, he replied, “anythin nawrth of Pritchard is a yankeeee.” I thought then that we had made a huge mistake.
Well, I don’t know why that proved untrue for us, but it did. I played Bunco, found a great church family, had fantastic neighbors and was constantly involved with some school project with my kids. My daughter started kindergarten in Fairhope and loved everything about it from her first day of school. It was a bit harder on my son who had to adjust to middle school and a new city at the same time. However, on a whole, we were very happy as a family in our little city by the bay.
Moving is very stressful. Uprooting your children can be devastating – especially when they are in middle school, but we can make it a little easier if we just try.
- Do your research before the move. If you are moving from a small city, try to find a community that is similar in size to where you are moving from, or smaller. It has been my experience that small communities make the transition a little easier on children.
- I actually called the police departments of two nearby cities to get information on crime rates and drug abuse in the schools.
- I visited with the principals of two different schools to help me decide which district would be the best fit for my children.
- If your children play sports, dance, do gymnastics or play a musical instrument, get them involved with their natural talent as soon as possible.
- Take the initiative in making new friends yourself. My husband is one of those who says, “if Mamma ain’t happy…ain’t nobody happy,” so it will be better for your children if they see you making an effort to fit in as well. It is harder when your children are older, but with a little effort, you will find those who have similar interests as yours.
- If you like to cook, have a cook out and invite your neighbors, have holiday coffees, or check out Meetups to find people with similar interests.
- When you have birthday parties, invite the moms and dads as well.
- Attend a place of worship.
- Keep an eye on local calendars of events to find things to do.
- If your neighborhood has a homeowners association, let them know you’ve moved in and what you would be interested in helping out with.
- Of course, local charities are a great place to meet people and feel good about the effort as well.
- And most of all, don’t sit at home and wait for the doorbell to ring, because it won’t.
We’ve moved 12 times in 33 years of marriage and let me tell you that it doesn’t get easier with each move. It takes at least a year for the community to begin to feel like home and about 2 years to feel like you’ve made lasting friendships. Then a year later, you’ll move again and start the whole process over again! Oh wait……that’s my life story, not yours.
And then again, when the lights go down in your city and the moon shines on the bay, snuggle close with your babies, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.
They’ll be moving to their own new cities soon enough.