With our last move, we’ve officially become B.C. residents. We finally switched over our driver’s licenses, truck registration and insurance, health care, and all the rest. While staying here has its perks (nice weather, good community), it also means long-distance grandparents.
Perhaps it was inevitable that after completing our degrees here we’d end up staying here. When we first applied to UVic, we planned to come for school and go back for work. When university ended without a job immediately in sight, it seemed easiest just to move locally until we had a bigger reason to move further.
However, most of our immediate family is back in Alberta, 14-18 hours drive away (depending on who is driving). We phone, Skype and email regularly, but it’s not the same as seeing them.
When we first got married, we lived half an hour away from both our parents. It was easy to pop over to one house or the other after church or after work. Then we moved away for my husband’s first job, and after a year decided we wanted to be closer to family again. We moved back to within half an hour of my in-laws. When I went back to work, Sunshine was able to spend lots of time with Grandma. Until my husband began looking at going back to school. UVic offered programs we couldn’t find in Alberta. We hoed and hummed, rationalized, moved.
Sometimes, when my friends mention dropping their kids off with their mom or mother-in-law, I wish I also had such free, convenient babysitting. More than that, however, I want my daughters to have a relationship with their grandparents that’s more than just seeing them twice a year.
I grew up three hours away from my dad’s parents, so we saw them several times a year. My mom grew up in Ontario, however, so we rarely saw her family. My relationship with my great-aunt and my step-grandma developed by handwritten letters.
I also feel that while big things tend to get shared in a long-distance relationship, the small things don’t. It’s those moments of just hanging out together and letting the silence settle that get lost. Reading bedtime stories. Deciding, on a whim, to go for a walk and pick flowers together.
Last time my mother-in-law visited, she was puttering around my kitchen muttering to herself. After a few minutes, she asked, “Am I bothering you with my muttering?” I laughed, because I’m the same way, and said, “Nope. Does my muttering bother you?”
So, while we’ve become like so many other people who’ve moved to live closer to school or work, I still regret moving so far away from our parents. It’s a sad statistic that only “only 33% of adults with children cited proximity to family members as an important factor when searching for a home” (from “Recent Study Shows the Importance of a Mother’s Touch“). For now, a local job for my husband at least means more vacation time and money to travel back to visit grandparents.
Do you live close to your grandparents/parents?