Childrearing

Raising Kids Away From Family Is The Absolute Worst

By  | 

raising-kids-away-from-familyI never thought that moving cross country would be anything other than the Edwards Family’s Wild Ride. Wiser now, I am here to say that raising kids away from family sucks the big one. It’s the worst.

My first experience with homesickness was in college, but it wasn’t me that was sad. That I would move away from my hometown after high school was such a foregone conclusion that it never even crossed my mind that other people might have second thoughts about it. I’m not proud to say that this made me a little arrogant and condescending. Imagine me, Mama T, urging my college peers to “take a knee” so that I could instill this wisdom in them: grow up, crybabies.

Knowing what I know now, I probably would have been less of a jerk, because while I was far away from home, my husband was not. His parents lived just five hours from our school, which meant that after our child was born, her grandparents were just a day trip away. When we moved to Atlanta, that trip was significantly shorter. I had too much of a young mother complex to rely on them for serious babysitting-something that made me feel guilty-but I became used to visiting them often. My mother in-law became a very good friend, and all was correct in the world.

Even so, when we decided to move to Texas, I was still kind of an arrogant tool. Of course we would miss them, but we were all adults here. People move all the time, I told myself. Life would go on.

Before we moved, my daughter and I lived with my in-laws while my husband set up shop cross-country, which made the first morning in our new apartment absolutely surreal. My two-year-old woke up and asked where Nana and Papa were, and I, mother of the year, said, “It’s just you and me here kid. How awesome is that?” Prompting her to burst into tears. I soon joined her.

It all hit me at once; I was in a strange place. My husband was working. There would be no more morning lattes with my mother-in-law, no more terrible dad jokes from my father-in-law, and no more “popping out” of the house kid-free to pick up milk at the store.

I called my husband to tell him, “I hate it here. I want to go home!” I sounded like a 10-year-old at sleep away camp. Eventually we adjusted, but never completely. We miss Georgia terribly, and I am immediately resentful of anyone who lives there.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry a little about my daughter. My siblings and I were the far-flung cousins of our big family, and there were definitely times that I felt completely left out of that tight-knit group.There are times I still do. I wonder if she’ll miss out on something her Georgia cousins won’t. Her cousins are my brother-in-law’s grotesquely adorable children, and because I am a rational human being, they make me jealous. When I hear that they’ve all gotten together for dinner I start speaking nonsense.

“No fair! Why are they allowed to do that without us?” Because of course I feel like they should all just wait around until we get back up to Georgia once a year, even though they only live a few miles apart.

The fact is, raising kids far away from home is a serious challenge. It isn’t just that you don’t have backup childcare, it’s everything. Every “Grandparent’s Day” luncheon, every awesome milestone that you just have to share with someone but can’t because of the time difference. Every birthday, every lost tooth, every report card. It’s hard stuff too; every layoff, every minor tragedy, every late night asthma attack that you know would be easier with your mother-in-law, who was a respiratory therapist. Every everything. It sucks eggs. Fortunately, it gets a little better as time goes on.

As an aside, I just want to say to all of the freshman I mocked back in college: I am so sorry. You were right. Homesickness blows, and I was a tool.

(Image: ollyy/Shutterstock)