Last night, right before bedtime I came out of the bathroom to find my daughter on the floor of the living room with tears streaming down her face. My first thought was immediately that she didn’t want to do something for bedtime and was throwing a fit about it, but she ran up to me and hugged me and I knew something was wrong. She started to tell me how she didn’t know why but she was thinking about Grammy up in Michigan and started crying, and that she misses her so much.
This is not the first time we’ve had this talk with Alice, it’s more common after a family visit, but I sat her down and hugged her and let her be sad. We’ve explained to her why we live where we do, and how even if we do decide to move it’s going to take time, but to a six-year-old even a couple years seem like an eternity. It breaks my heart every time she talks about wanting to live closer to the rest of our family, and I definitely understand where she’s coming from, but at the moment we are not planning to move and I have to make sure that she understands that I will absolutely comfort her when she’s upset about this, but there’s not a whole lot to be done right now.
For my entire married life, I have lived long distance from my childhood home, and would only get to visit on plane rides or long road trips for holidays and special occasions. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was doable, and during the rest of the year my husband and I had fun in whatever city we were living in at the time as a young married couple. But everything changed after our second child was born. We bought a home thinking it was time to settle in a place with good job security and lots of opportunity for the kids. I didn’t realize how putting down roots a 15-hour drive away from my family would really affect us until last year.
We are now in a place where we have to navigate raising our nuclear family without the help of extended family. Sometimes, I dream of what it would be like to have free family babysitters at less then a day’s notice, or not using up all our vacation funds on visiting family and being able to go somewhere new to explore. I’m constantly wondering if we made the right decision buying a house where we are now or whether we should have just started up a different kind of life closer to our old home.
It’s impossible to know how things would have been different if we were closer to my parents, but for now all I can do is hold my daughter tight when she’s missing family and let her know I’m here for her, and that no matter what her entire family loves her very much.