There was recently an article floating around Facebook about living near grandparents and how it is the best gift to your children. I won’t cite the article because I don’t want to point fingers at it. It was well written and heartfelt, but I will write a response to that article. It took me about a month to actually read it because the truth is, I’m still grieving after moving away from my parents with two small children.
We lived in the same city as my parents for two wonderful years when our first daughter was just a baby. My mom watched her while I worked. We had regular dinners at my parents’ house. We had built-in babysitters for easy date nights. They even took her to their house for the night so we could sleep in. It was truly glorious. Then, we moved and had our second child within a matter of weeks. Needless to say we had some major transitions.
While I’d love to say that living away from family gets easier, it just doesn’t.
I thank God everyday for our blessings, but I also pray that one day we can move closer to one of our sets of parents. I recognize the physical and emotional benefits of having regular grandparent involvement. I’ve seen the research and I’ve witnessed it personally.
That said, in the past year I’ve also experienced a new sense of appreciation for our parents and the distance between us. I now know grandparents can still be a vital part of a child’s development even from far away. With intention and a positive mindset, I believe living away from grandparents can still be just as impactful to children as living close by.
1. We’ve learned to cherish each moment while we are with our family.
Rather than the regular dinners or drop by visits, our time is spent days on end. We plan fun outings, celebrate holidays and birthdays, or just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch. Every holiday is a celebration because it’s spent with family. It feels more special to spend time with our parents, whereas before I took it for granted.
2. Our memories are more valuable.
Now, when I look back at pictures of family vacations or birthday parties, I remember who was there with us. When we look back at the pictures 10 or 20 years from now, we won’t remember the hard times away from our family. Instead we will be able to feel the joy we had spending those precious moments with them.
3. Our visits are more fun.
When we lived in the same city with my parents, we didn’t sleep at their house. When we visit with each other now, we can stay up late watching a movie together or wake up and have coffee. We have more downtime rather than being rushed to get from one place to another.
4. Our family unit is solid.
Since we don’t see family on a weekly basis, every Saturday is a family day. Every supper is a family supper. We dine out with our kids. We bring them with us most places we go. We are a strong support system for each other.
It’s not always easy to be positive. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a tinge of jealousy every time I see my friends post pictures of random family gatherings. I have days where I just want to mope and feel sorry for myself that I can’t call my mom to come over on a whim. Or ask my father-in-law to come over and fix the broken cabinet door. Or worst of all, be there for a parent when they need us most.
But at the end of the day, I’m not doing myself any favors by feeling bad. Instead I would rather look forward to our next visit, FaceTime more often, record funny videos on Marco Polo, post pictures on our family iCloud Drive from my daughters’ school activities, and send hand written notes through snail mail. Thankfully, we live in 2019 when communication options are endless!
So, if you’re like me and your parents don’t live nearby, just know you are not alone. Your kids will grow up to be confident, strong, and emotionally intelligent. Don’t let the internet tell you otherwise. It’s all about your perception of what true happiness is.