As this week wraps up, so does my parents’ too-short visit to sunny California. Being away from them has been one of the hardest parts of living here. Missing grandma and grandpa is a way of life for my expat kids. My parents are amazing people, amazing parents and amazing grandparents to my kids. I love seeing my girls interact with them and the happiness on my parents’ faces at the wonders that are their grandkids. I love having them around and whenever they visit they are incredibly helpful to me as well. I got to sleep in until 9am this morning and when I got up the kids were fed and the breakfast dishes were done. In fact, now that I think about it, I haven’t done the dishes this whole week!
I am often filled with guilt over moving so far away from my parents. I miss them. I know my kids miss their grandparents. I feel like I am depriving my kids of two wonderful adults who love them unconditionally. Kids can never have too much love or too many people who love them. I feel like I am depriving my parents of enjoying their grandkids while they are still young and energetic. I am definitely depriving myself of much needed help and babysitting. But it isn’t all bad.
We are lucky enough to live in the age of technology and globalization. We can talk to them regularly and see their faces and they still get to enjoy Booboo’s smiles and Lucy’s “cross face”. A 5.5 hour flight isn’t as easy as a 30 minute drive but still we manage to see them a few times per year. When we visit them or they visit us we all live in the same home. In many ways they get to experience the kids in ways that they likely wouldn’t if we lived in the same city. They can wake up and see the kids first thing in the morning, when they are still warm and cuddly in their pajamas. They get to read them a bedtime story and sing them the lullabies that they used to sing to me when I was a kid. While they are here on vacation they came with us to Lulu’s gymnastics class and Booboo’s 1-year checkup. They got to see the kids in their natural state, the way they are at home and with their friends, and experience how amazing they are every day. We even got to have Canadian thanksgiving together and they were here for Booboo’s 1st birthday!
Every visit we also take the time to do a little traveling. As most parents know, a vacation with the kids is not a vacation for the parents. It’s just working remotely from a different location. But When we travel with my parents I actually get a vacation as well. We have extra hands to help with the kiddos and great company to enjoy a glass of wine with. This trip we went to Monterey and Carmel and Carmel Valley. We drove through along the 17-mile drive (or 17-hour drive as it was dubbed) and hiked in Big Sur. It was much less stressful than it would have been if Husband and I were trying to wrangle the kiddos on our own but with 4 fun and capable adults we can all take turns to enjoy the views and to occupy the kids.
During these couple week vacations we all get a concentrated dose of each other. I think this is something that might cause strain in other families (we’ve had our moments as well) but we know that these visits will be over in the blink of an eye and we’ll go back to missing grandma and grandpa. It’s important to remember that. So we do our best to compact as many memories and experiences and love and patience into these days to last us the months until we see them again. Lulu is already talking about all the things she wants to do in Canada in the winter, she’s drawing pictures of snowmen and holiday trees. She’s already missing grandma and grandpa.
Being away from loved ones is one of the hardest parts of being an expat family. Want to read more? Check out this post from a fellow expat blogger about saying goodbye to family. I’d love to hear from you! Do you live far away from your family? Do you have tips on how to deal with missing them?