I grew up in a small town and had a simple little country life out on a lake in the woods. I loved it there. I loved the quiet and the peacefulness and looking up and seeing a sky full of stars at night. But when I considered my future, I didn’t see myself staying. It never crossed my mind that I would be anywhere even remotely close to that small town. I saw city lights. I even had my apartment picked out in Los Angeles next to the cosmetology school I was going to attend so I could do makeup for movie stars. Then… well… I chased a boy out to East Texas and went to university there. I loved my school and the pine trees and, even though the first boy didn’t work out, I met my true love there. It was all good. Though the city itch didn’t go away, my life kept taking me to small towns outside of the city…never the city itself for long.
When my husband and I went to buy our first home, we started realizing the trade-offs of city living. I wanted a big yard with a covered patio and big closets, a bathroom with a separate tub and shower, a cul de sac if possible…
As my wish list grew, I quickly priced us out of any Dallas neighborhoods. So we looked East in Forney (not far from the small town I grew up in). We found everything and more on our wish list all within our one-income budget. It felt like a compromise at first, but over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate our little life out here.
Here are some of the reasons I love raising our family in Forney, Texas.
- Playdates are super easy to plan. Moms have enough decisions to make. Forney keeps it simple. “Want to meet up? Chick-fil-A or the Forney Community Park?” And if you don’t plan ahead with friends, you can show up at peak hours and bet you’ll run into someone you know. (We really do have more options than this…but these are for sure our go-tos.)
- Our kids have learned to find entertainment anywhere. Riding lawnmowers at Lowe’s, browsing the toy aisle at Wal-Mart, steering the red caboose and ringing the bell in Downtown Forney are all free, and I swear sometimes more fun than the kid-designed play spaces.
- We celebrate growth. We drive by the in-progress Fire Station #2 a few times a week to see if the trucks are there yet. The anticipation for my future firefighter is intense. But I get it because I did the same thing when they brought a first-of-it’s-kind huge Kroger Marketplace to our town. It felt like Christmas when it opened. It truly was life-changing y’all. And now we are eagerly waiting for a Dallas favorite, Enos Pizza Tavern, to open. Other trendy businesses are working their way here, like a craft brewery and upscale bakeries. I’m proud of the way our city has been both selective and forward thinking, keeping the heart of Forney while working to grow our economy and draw people here.
- Stars. No, not the celebrity variety. When we pull into our driveway after a late ball game on a clear night, it never ceases to amaze me that I can look straight up and show my kids the Big Dipper right over our heads.
- Forney MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is the best. I might be a little biased, but I have spoken at several wonderful MOPS groups and I think Forney has something special; something deeply authentic. They carried me through my first five years of motherhood. FYI, it always has a wait list because moms don’t tend to leave for a long time once they join.
- Everything is close…ya know, except everything in Dallas. We have all the basics, plus some, and they are all accessible without ever getting on a highway. Mesquite and Rockwall are each 20 minutes away if we need something we can’t find in Forney, and Dallas is just a 40 minute trip outside of rush hour.
- Hay bales and cows. As you turn into my neighborhood, you’ll see cows grazing in a pasture to your left and a great big field with hay bales stacked up to your right. In August, sunflowers grow wild blanketing the sides of the roads. It’s a little slice of the country without giving up the community and amenities, like pools and parks, that suburban neighborhoods provide.
- Boredom. I’m not trying to brag or anything, but my kids get to experience boredom on a regular basis. With limited “activities” available nearby, we spend a lot of time at home and in our backyard. Out of their boredom, they get to be creative with what we have. They get the gift of a simple childhood, much like I had.
- Fashion is more or less optional. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like Forney is out in the sticks. Some of my best friends are as fashion-forward as they come, but in general, there is an easiness to the fashions of Forney. There isn’t a restaurant in town that you’d feel out of place in if you walked in wearing a t-shirt and jeans. My kids are right there among the best dressed in their Old Navy and Carters wardrobes. There is something about this that makes me feel like I can breathe a little easier here.
- We want for less. Moving to Forney is by no means a cure for materialism…that struggle can follow you anywhere. But in a world full of pressures, it’s no small thing to be able to go through your day without seeing a pair of shoes that cost half your mortgage or a car that costs more than your yearly salary. It has never crossed my mind that I need a name-brand handbag. I honestly couldn’t even think of a current sought after bag to use as an example here. Call me out of style, but it feels incredibly refreshing to not know what I don’t have or to be reminded of it every day at school pick-up.
I could just as easily write a post on all the frustrations of living in a small town and my web browsing history would confirm that I still get that city itch from time to time and start day dreaming about a life closer to the arts and our church (that we still drive to Dallas for after seven years), how I feel torn between culture and country.
Maybe I will write that someday, but that won’t take away from all that I love about our life in Forney. It is where we are supposed to be for this chapter of our life. This little town has my heart.