Family Far Away: The Tough Stuff

I’ve lived far away from most of my family for a very long time. It’s never been easy, but I didn’t realize how challenging it can be to live somewhere with twins without the support of your family nearby. As my own family grows, we’ve been blessed with fantastic friends who have stepped in as our “right here family,” but I am still saddened that my kids aren’t growing up with their grandparents, aunts and uncles nearby. I grew up with all of my gigantic family close at hand, so family dinners, holidays and weekly meet ups were a constant, very happy part of my childhood. Here’s the tough stuff about having family far away:
Family Far Away: The Tough Stuff

1. Holidays: We celebrate most holidays as our tiny family unit of the husband, myself, the kiddos and our pets. And being in a blended family, sometimes we are even down one kid and our tiny family gets even tinier. The holidays are our favorite time of year, but they are also a constant reminder that our extended family is far away. I miss having huge Thanksgiving dinners at the long dining room table at my grandparents, stuffed end to end with laughter, food and memories. Opening presents at home on Christmas morning and then continuing on to celebrate with family later in the day was always a highlight. Even simple things, like Easter egg hunts, fireworks or parades are joyful memories from my childhood that I wish my children got to experience with their grandparents like I did.

2. Kids grow fast: I blinked and my niece is 5 years old. Seriously. I barely know who she is. This makes me sad. I also watch my own boys growing so rapidly, changing daily it seems and just know my parents will be shocked the next time they see them. I also know they’ll feel like they missed out. Life moves so quickly. I have great respect for our military service men and women who go on deployments. It must be excruciating to miss parts of your children’s youth and I’m so grateful they willingly sacrifice such an important part of themselves to protect our country.

Family Far Away: The Tough Stuff

3. No direct support system: Having twins…well, this blog isn’t called Chaos & Kiddos for nothing. Twins are more work, more tears, more exhaustion, more everything than I could have ever imagined. We’re surviving it, and of course, while we wouldn’t trade our lives for the world, there are moments of utter darkness and overwhelming fear. Those moments when just having family available to be there would be a relief and the energy spark to dig back in and keep on going. Sure, we pick up the phone, but it isn’t the same as the grandma who comes over every week, helps with the kids, does laundry, gives you a date night, gives you a hug and tells you that you’re a great parent. I wish we had those.

4. Child care: See #3. Over 50% of my salary goes to day care and babysitters. As a growing family of five, that money isn’t just hanging out there on trees for the plucking. We work hard to provide for our family and making ends meet is harder some months than others. Having family available to babysit on a whim, and actually asking to babysit, WOW! That would be amazing. The boys are getting older, so babysitters are easier now, but when they were little, we couldn’t just leave them with “any” babysitter. Their care was so overwhelming, we had 1 person who really could handle it solo. My mom got to do full time care for my niece when she was little and my sister was at work and I admit, I’m a bit jealous.

Family Far Away: The Tough Stuff

5. Visits are short and expensive: We’d love to have an endless supply of money and vacation time, but it just isn’t so. And with twins, flying not only gives me nightmares, but it’s also out of the budget. Likewise, a lot of our family have children and our parents are on tight budgets, so flying (and even driving) to visit us isn’t easy either. We live in a tourist area, so hotel prices can be a punch to the gut and our small home just can’t support extra people. We end up really seeing family once in a blue moon for very short lengths.

6. Emergency backup: When things go the kind of wrong that you never hope for and an emergency befalls, it can be incredibly difficult to not have family close that can come to your immediate aid. Likewise, it can be hard to hear about challenging situations back home with my family that I simply can’t help with because I’m so far away. You can feel pretty helpless in these moments when the people you really need close are just not able to be there.

If you have family far away, what has been the hardest part for you?

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