This time last year, my husband and I were living and working in New York. Also, I was seven months pregnant.
Then, just before Christmas, we packed up the last of our two-bedroom apartment, threw our cat in the car, and drove all the way down to Texas.
On January 1st, we pulled into the driveway of our new home. There was a palm tree in the front yard and two central AC units out back.
We were definitely not in New York anymore.
Welcome to The Valley
The first few weeks in our new city were exciting. There was an entire house to furnish, including a baby’s room. I also had to get busy eating as much delicious Mexican food as possible… you know, so the baby would be acclimated to the flavors and stuff.
Sure, things were different. Instead of taking the train, we were driving everywhere. Instead of egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll, it was breakfast tacos from Stripes. Instead of “Uptown or Downtown” it was “East or West” on 83.
Still, it felt like I was on an extended vacation. Any day now, I would be back on the MetroNorth train, commuting into the city for work. Except… I wouldn’t be. By the time our baby arrived, it was beginning to sink in that this was our home now. And you know what? It was kind of nice.
Moving from New York City to the Rio Grande Valley seems like a drastic change, right? Yet, surprisingly, I think that life up there is what prepared me for life down here.
A Native Texan Returns
I should mention that I’m a Native Texan. So, while I spent eight years in NYC, moving back was a bit of a homecoming. This probably helped with some of the “culture shock” of moving from one of the biggest cities in the world to a relatively small (but rapidly growing) area in the southernmost tip of Texas. But you know what really helped? Remembering what it was like to move to New York all those years ago.
The City is a huge, crazy, fun, exciting, stimulating place to live. It’s can also be hectic, scary, lonely and just really, really hard. The winters are brutal. The rents are worse. In short, living in New York taught me that I can live anywhere— and love it. Especially when a tropical climate and amazing tamales are involved.
On a final note…
My tips for moms/ moms-to-be who are new to the area:
If you’re pregnant…
- Schedule a hospital tour as soon as you can. Meeting the nurses and asking questions will help alleviate some of your apprehension. If you’re not sure where to deliver or how to pick a provider, don’t be hesitant to “shop around” by touring multiple hospitals.
- Sign up for birthing classes ASAP. Hopefully, you’ll meet some parents-to-be and start building a network.
- Personally, I met several women through a prenatal yoga class and La Leche League meetings.
If you’re a mom of little ones…
- You’ve moved to the right place! There are tons of MOPS groups and other church organizations down here that are more than excited to welcome new members. (Also, check out this guide to Preschools in the RGV.)
- Google search for kids’ gym, music, art, and yoga classes in your area. I’ve found quite a few in the upper valley, most with great introductory rates.
- Find out the date and time of all the library story times near you. I go to three a week.
- Hit up all the amazing local parks and splash pads and “pick up” some mom friends.
If you’re a mom of school-aged kids…
- Ask your kids who they’re becoming friends with and introduce yourself to those kids’ parents at pick-up or drop-off.
- Find out if there’s a class or school event coming up and volunteer to help (if you can).
- Same tip as above— Google search or ask for word-of-mouth recommendations for kids’ classes and sports teams.
And my last tip? Use social media to your advantage! Facebook is an incredible resource for joining “mom groups” (starting with ours!) and vetting new friends.