My mom adventures in Fort Collins

On enjoying time with my (long-distance) family

I turned 35 about a week ago. And while that occasion was about as momentous as the first time I saw my friend Shelley sing “Sweet Caroline” on karaoke, this year was very special for one specific reason: I had visitors. For the first time since I was maybe 18 years old, I spent my birthday with my mom AND my brother.

My cute imported mom with the kids at the zoo's carousel

I like to subscribe to the Dave Barry philosophy on birthdays: There comes a time when you need to stop making a big deal about your birthday. That time is when you are 12. On the rare occasion that my birthday falls on Easter (this has happened at least twice that I remember), there is often a perfect excuse to get together without drawing attention to the fact that I’m celebrating a birthday. Yet, as I grow older, I realize more and more that there are so few occasions to celebrate in life. Why not make a big deal about your birthday? Whatever the case, it’s been a blessing to spend some time with my family.

Back up for a second… When I was a young girl, I had dreams of moving away from my hometown. And I did. Among other places, I once lived for two years in a time zone 12 hours ahead of my parents. When I had all of these adventures, I was single. I didn’t ever (no, never… have I mentioned that I’m not much of a “planner”?) think about how some day my life far far away from my family would be difficult. In my plot to escape Sheerboredom, Wisconsin, I never thought of a future where I’d endlessly miss proximity to my folks. Then, bam, I had two kids and it’s a daily thought: I wish I could see my mom and dad. I wish they could see this! I wish my kids could get to spend more time with their grandparents. And their uncle.

Sometimes we like to hang out in trees when we get together--with my brother

Living far away from family does have its advantages, though. I’m sure everyone’s situation is slightly different, but for me the distance can be a gift. My parents and I have a great relationship, and that is somewhat due to the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. Cory’s family lives out-of-state, too, with this exception of his one sister who lives here in town. A trip to visit one set of grandparents is nearly 6 hours in the car, and the other set of grandparents is about 8 hours door-to-door with drive-time, a 2 hour flight and time spent waiting at the airport.

Now that our kids are bigger and can do things like talk on the phone, sing, and (this is key) remember who everyone in their family is we are better at including the extended family in our day-to-day life. Without a doubt, our family is a tight unit—the four of us: Cory, me, Scout and Ruby—and we do everything together. Part of me wonders if we’d be quite as tight if our families lived closer to us. One thing is for sure, I’m not one to take time together for granted. When I do get the chance to see my family, I try to make the most of our visit. And, as envious as I am of my fellow mommy-friends who can take advantage of a date-night because all they have to do is drop the kids off at grandma’s house, I know that there is something special about being able to spend a week at Grandma’s house, take a vacation with Grandma and Papa, receive a seemingly-endless stream of packages from Grandma and Papa, and everything else that comes with being far away from your loved ones.

For years, we have been trying to convince our families to move close to us… and it hasn’t panned out yet. Maybe it will one day. Try as I might, I can’t imagine that the saving grace of having grandparents nearby would do more for our mental health than the weather, quality of life, job and educational opportunities, and fantastic community that we have here. So, this is how it’ll be: trips to visit our parents every year, host visitors whenever we can get them, and hopefully when the kids get older they can spend time in Wyoming and Wisconsin without us—and have their own adventures with their grandparents.

Tell me what you have done to keep your far-flung-extended-family near to your hearts? It’s really embarrassing, but we still need to set up Skype!


2 Comments so far
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First, happy belated birthday! Second, I, too, have family far, far away from us. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?! We just got back from a trip to visit family so I can completely relate. Setting up Skype is easy – and it is a fun way to stay connected over the miles. 🙂

Comment by jeandayfriday

Why thank you, you’re so sweet. And as for Skype, I know I just need to stop procrastinating and just do it. Thanks!

Comment by jaymers

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