I signaled to Margo (7) to close her eyes and go back to sleep. Then, I heard a whimper that quickly turned into a full blown sob. I sat down next to her stroking her forehead. For ten minutes, she blubbered, “I miss grandma and poppop!”. I miss them too sweetie…
After an action packed two week visit from my parents, Margo and my husband had just come back from dropping them off at the airport in Brisbane. We were all so tired from running around with them for the last two weeks, that we all had a big mid-day nap. When we woke (and after Margo’s cry) we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening, in mourning, while we watched the online flight tracker take my mom and dad, in a perfect little trajectory, far away from us, across the Pacific Ocean.
It’s a loooong flight to LA… then it’s another six hours to Newark.
Back to the weekly Skype calls. Back to the three or four packages a year full of goodies from America. Back to no more hugs or books or meals together or drawing together… boo… hoo…
We’re not forced to live where we do. When my husband and I came to Australia, nine years ago, on my student visa, we had no clue we would end up loving it so much here and wanting to stay. Life just sort of happened (as it does) and in no time at all, we found ourselves with good jobs, three kids, a house, and a lifestyle that suits us perfectly. A lifestyle that would be impossible to recreate if we moved back to the east coast of the USA, where we both grew up.
Because of how far we live, it’s not exactly easy to hop on a plane back to visit all too often. We’ve done it twice in nine years, it’s exhausting. Buying plane tickets for a whole family while living on a reduced income is the limiting factor. One time, we went five years without seeing them! That was a tough one.
So, after years of bugging them, they finally came!!! For the first time since having children, I had some sort of extended family in MY home. It was so awesome. We drove each other nuts at times and did way too much sightseeing. The kid’s schedule was completely out of whack, and we were all tired, but it was also so good. They rented a holiday apartment in the same building as ours, just upstairs, so the kids and everyone could run back and forth.
It’s pretty crazy how efficient you get at surviving without the grandparents around. Now that I’ve had a taste, it makes me sad to think that it can’t happen more often. It’s nice to just have someone there. Another outlet of energy for the kids. A different adult to interact with. Of course, having my mama and daddy around is pretty cool too… even though I haven’t seen them much in the past decade, who knows you better then your own parents?
Oh yeah… we were all so so sad when they left. It hurt, there were lots of tears.
I think it’s human nature to be on the move and to want to find a place to live that suits your needs. Our ancestors populated the planet somehow, and that would have been done by leaving ‘home‘. I always think of my husband’s grandmother, who came alone to America from Russia in the early 1900’s. It was a one way ticket back then. No hoping on a plane to visit your parents for the holidays. No Skype. If you were lucky, a letter here and there, until the wars came and you never heard from your parents or extended family again. So… we are lucky in this day and age that we can visit and stay in close contact. Moving to the other side of the globe is not the end of the story these days!
The one good thing about having a condensed visit was that everyone cleared their schedule (almost) and we all had nothing to do except hang out with each other. We probably had more quality family time in two weeks than we would have had in an entire year, had we been living only a few hours away. And, since we rarely get to see each other, everyone was on their best behavior to make the time as enjoyable as possible. We all had so much fun because we had to make every day, minute and second count!
While it is sad living so far away, it’s definitely possible. You have to sort of create your own family for the times when you can’t have your real family around. And, when you do get the chance to see your family, it’s usually short and sweet!