Five years ago, my husband and I made the decision to move away from my family in New England for a job opportunity in Maryland.
Over the last 5 years, we’ve planted roots in our new home. We bought our first house together. We grew our family. We both have jobs we like and we’ve made friends. While I love where we live and truly feel at home here, there are times, especially since A has been born, when I miss being closer to family. We are over 300 miles away from the town I grew up in. People are always saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Yet we are making a choice to raise our daughter far from family. Far from our village.
When I was a child, I spent so much time with my grandparents. I have the happiest memories of having tea parties with my maternal grandmother, Mimi. Even when she became ill, I remember being so content snuggled close to her in her hospital bed. Later, my brother and I spent a few happy summers with my paternal grandparents. We would go to their house while our parents worked and have so much fun building with Lincoln Logs, coloring, or playing hide and seek in their large back yard. I grew up knowing my grandparents.
Little A doesn’t see her grandparents as often as I saw mine as a child. She only sees her aunts, uncles, and her cousins a few times a year. The distance makes it difficult. Being far from family makes it even more important for me to do everything I can to foster A’s relationships with family. We chat on Skype. We FaceTime with my in-laws and with my brother and his family often. When I call my mom, I often switch to the speaker phone, so A can hear her Mimi’s voice. I’m constantly texting people pictures and funny videos as well as uploading them to my personal Facebook page. Technology makes being far away from family just a little bit easier.
Last week, my in-laws came to visit. I was so happy that A remembered them and went to them without hesitation. She was able to spend three fun-filled days singing songs, dancing, reading books, and playing with their phones (her favorite pastime)! They have such a special bond, regardless of how far away we live. It makes my heart happy to watch my daughter’s eyes light up with love for her grandparents.
Raising my daughter away from family is challenging at times. My husband and I only have each other to lean on for support. There are two people in our everyday village- him and me. Our family is supportive in other ways. They are always only a phone call away if we need to talk, or ask for advice, or just hear another adult voice once in awhile! When they visit, or when we visit them, we always make the most of our time spent together. Little A can grow up knowing her grandparents, and the rest of her family, even though we don’t see them all the time.