To all the “faraway grandmas and grandpas”—this is what my children call my parents. They live in central Canada, and we live on the East Coast. Four provinces apart. Two plane rides away. About a 32-hour drive according to Google—and that’s driving straight through without stopping.
Believe me when I say you are dearly missed. It’s not easy for anyone. Not for me. Not for you. Not for your grandchildren.
I know I am the one who chose to move away. At the time I wanted to—I wanted to leave home . . . travel somewhere different, explore new surroundings, meet new people. It felt exciting. It felt right.
Then I met someone, and I chose to stay—not come home. At the time, I didn’t know how long I would be there. It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision. But it felt exhilarating to potentially live in a new place, to be the new person in town.
Then eventually, I had my first child. And that is when everything changed.
I realized staying there was no longer a temporary option. It was permanent. I couldn’t just up and move back home anymore even if I really wanted to. I had a child to think about, a child whose father lived there. I couldn’t force him to move back to my hometown. After all, it was my choice to stay. He never forced me to. It was all on me—my choice. I now had to live with it whether I was happy or not.
And believe me when I say, that was a hard realization for me after having my first child. It hit me like a ton of bricks. And it was a very tough pill to swallow. Reality sunk in. Regret sunk in. Postpartum depression and anxiety sunk in.
I realized my family would never be there in my child’s day-to-day life. They had already missed the birth of my first child.
And they would continue to miss a lot more firsts. They would miss her first smile. They would miss seeing her crawl for the first time. Walk for the first time. Her first tooth. Even her first birthday.
A grandparent should be there for all of that, but they would not be.
And all of that was on me. I chose to move away, not them—guilt had now sunk in. I took all of that away from them. ME. I felt horrible.
They always wanted to be grandparents, and now they were. But from a distance. That was not what they had imagined. Nor was it what I had imagined before I had kids. But that’s how it was. And it was not how anyone wanted it to be.
I’ve since had two more children, and each time is just as hard. The reality of them having more grandchildren but not being able to see them as often as they would like is so hard.
I’ve traveled back home a few times, and they come out here each summer to visit. That is always exciting, but it feels like we have to cram as much fun as possible in that short amount of time. And it goes by incredibly fast. Then as the day gets closer to when they leave, the sadness starts to creep in. I can feel the vibe change.
The visits are always enjoyable but also very hard.
Seeing how everyone has changed so much since the last time we all saw each other. Realizing everyone is getting older with each visit. That change is exciting to watch in children but not as exciting with adults. We hope everyone’s health keeps up so travel is still an option and the visits can continue.
Then there’s the financial guilt—the cost of travel is expensive whether they come here or I go there. It’s expensive either way. Expenses they would not have had if I did not move away.
I wish moving closer to each other was an option, but unfortunately, it’s not. They have their own life and obligations back at home, and I can’t expect them to drop their entire life to move out here. I chose to move here. Not them. They have their own parents and other family members back home. Their parents are now older and need their help, and they are devoted to helping them, which is very admirable. A grown child should help their aging parents—it’s the right thing to do.
But there is a little light at the end of the tunnel. This summer I am due with my fourth child, which means they will finally be here for the birth of a grandchild. And this also means that every summer, they will get to be here for a birthday. Everyone is excited about this. After all, getting to be there for one birth and one grandchild’s birthday is better than not getting to be there for any. We have to try to look at the bright side of things in life even if sometimes it might seem very hard to do.
We may not be in each other’s day-to-day life anymore, but we still have many reasons to give thanks.
At least, I’m fortunate to still have my parents around. At least, they are fortunate enough to say they have grandchildren. At least, we can still see each other every summer and sometimes more. At least, we can still talk to each other on the phone. At least, we can still send and receive birthday cards and Christmas cards. At least, we are all still in the same country—some people have family much further away. At least we know we all still deeply care for each other—some people don’t even have that, but we do. And that is something to be grateful for.
I look forward to this summer and finally being able to watch my parents hold a grandchild as a newborn for the first time. They may have missed the first three times, but at least they have this time.
Things may have turned out completely different from what we ever imagined them to be, but we have to remember to be happy for all the opportunities we have been given in life. Even when they are not exactly how we wanted them to be. We need to change how we perceive the difficult parts of our lives and do our best to see them from a different perspective. We need to find the light in the darkness. It may not always be easy to do, as everyone has very different lives and challenges, but at least trying will help give you peace of mind and bring more happiness into your life.