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Raising Children When Family Is Far Away

Every time I get on the airplane it hurts.

About five years ago I moved to a new city and never dreamed I would get married and raise a family away from my family. Like most young dreamers, moving to a new city was a chance for me to spread my wings and meet new people. I lived it up during that time. I got my first big girl job, had roommates, and made a sport of happy hour. I went to breweries, to church, and to the mountains. It was a time when I “found” myself, so to speak.

Then I married my husband and a year later we had a baby. It all happened so fast.

I come from a big Mexican family. Everyone knows everything about one another. Family gatherings are a weekly norm. I talk to my family members all the time.

I’ve mourned being far from them ever since I’ve moved. Some days the pain pierces more than others. Sometimes I just wish I had a couch to plop myself on when I’m lonely but don’t feel like making a formal hangout with a friend. What I miss most about being near family is the comfort of having a place to go no matter what. I miss being understood and having people near that can give me space but yet be in the same room. I feel awfully weird going to a friends house and ignoring her for an hour. But my parents would understand.

I am fortunate to have one set of grandparents about an hour away and my sister nearby. That makes such a HUGE difference. Lillian is blessed to have them so close. Still, many other family members live away. 

It is also very difficult to raise a baby away from grandparents. I so badly want to share each step and milestone with them. I long for my daughter to know her grandparents the way I knew my Nana. I wish she could experience weekends at Nana’s, blankets on the floor and vanilla ice cream sleepovers, and the wonderful back-scratches Nana’s do oh so well. I want her to have that special relationship with all her grandparents, and I pray she will. I often get sad knowing long distance relationships are different than what I am used to.

I’ve visited my family over ten times since I’ve had my daughter. I am very lucky to have been able to do so, but every goodbye is tearful. I hate goodbyes.

I remember family gatherings where I had all my cousins nearby. It is hard for me that Lillian is growing older with all her cousins far away, and I cannot help but feel envious when I see other families able to get all the cousins together. 

On the other hand, there are some lovely perks from living away from family. The first is my husband and I are a united team. We don’t have the constant input of in laws or the pressures of family situations weighing us down. We are a family unit and we depend on one another very much.

The second is we are very proactive in building a community of friends around us. We have wonderful friendships that have become much like family. I am not sure I would have so many great friends had I not been forced to make relationships outside of my family.

Third, when I visit my family it is very special quality time. I typically say intentional things to those I love since I do not see them daily. I don’t take for granted their presence. I get to focus my full attention on them, have fun, and engage in meaningful conversations.

I am so grateful for modern technology such as social media, digital images, and video conferencing as well. I am able to share so much more of my daughters growth because of these blessings.

Sorry for the random post. I know many of you must live far from family and I am wondering how you deal with the distance? Do you also get sad here and there? Do you enjoy it or long to move back near family? What perks do you receive by living near family, and which ones do you see by living away from family?

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