When You Live Far From Family

When you live far from family, hellos don’t come often enough and goodbyes are always hard.

I know so many of you get it. Whether its a a 4-hour drive or a 4-hour plane flight, there is just something that is lost in the day-to-day absence. And I feel it more now than I ever.

. . . 

I moved out of my parents house when I was 18 and although I had a hard time adjusting to college, I knew I never really wanted to move back. I spent most of my college and post-college years wanting independence and an identity different from my family. When I was single and living with friends in Santa Barbara going home for the holidays and family birthdays was filled with tension. On one hand it was familiar and comfortable, but at 27 I felt like a little kid going back to mom and dads. The more time I spent at home, the deeper my heart ached for my own family. I wanted a husband and kids; the people who would make me into a “we.” I wanted to feel like a grown up, instead of like an adult sitting at the kids table.

And now here I am with my own family. A husband who I love and a daughter who brings me more joy than I knew possible. I am a grown-up, if there is such a thing. And yet I have yearned for my family more in the past 6 months, than in the past 6 years. Is that normal?

I know my parents they have always taken good care of me, but I probably wasn’t always in a season of life where I was able to receive it. But things have changed. Somehow being a new mom makes me tender, and tired and vulnerable in ways I didn’t expect. And it also makes me need my family in new ways.

. . . 

My sisters have become aunts who want so desperately to be a part of Elena’s life. One flew down to Guatemala just to help us and spend time with Elena while Gerber was gone. And the other flew out to California the only weekend she had free to meet her niece and see us. And I bet my brother would do lunch dates with us every day if he could.

I have loved watching my parents become grandparents. They adore and love my little girl, they push pause on parts of their life just to be with her and sing to her and hold her. But maybe even more than how they love my daughter, it’s how they love me that makes me miss them.

My parents came to visit us in July and meet their granddaughter. And when they left I sat at my kitchen table in tears, my 6-week old baby in my arms. I flew to California in September for a 2-week visit and on the night they dropped us off at the airport I walked toward security, pushing the stroller, carrying Elena, and tears dripping down my face.

. . . 

And last Thursday was no different.

We said good-bye upstairs by the elevators. My mom held Elena, my dad hugged me and my sister kept biting her lip to keep from crying. I took a deep breath and tried to swallow my tears.

I felt like a kid who just wants to go home. And home is a hard place to define when it’s straddled between two countries.

One home is with my sweet husband and baby girl in a country whose language and culture is still new to me. And the other is in California, in the same house and on the same street where this little girl grew up. And somehow I want my little girl to feel at home in both places.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

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7 thoughts on “When You Live Far From Family

  1. I can so relate. Goodbyes are so, so hard. And I feel the same way about my family now that I have a family of my own.

    That quote is one that I have held dear since we have moved so many times in the past 5 years.

    Sending big hugs to you and Elena today. xoxoxo

  2. Thank you for this; I can definitely relate. Your paragraph about moving out for college was me to a T, and five years later I’m an ocean away from “home” (where my family is) as they celebrate the birth of my new niece. Though I’m very happy here with my husband and friends, being away is hard, too, especially with changes in the family and the holidays coming up.

  3. When I visited my family in Montana (I lived in Oregon or Washington) as a young Mom, I always cried when I left (I usually only saw them twice a year). I don’t think this is just between two cultures or countries but any real distance is part of this. The biggest thing is: you wouldn’t cry if you didn’t love them and know that they love you - this is a rich blessing.

  4. I so get this! Having a child totally changes the way we see things and relate to people, family in particular. And we never truly understand it until it happens to us. I will be boarding a plane to Oman on Tuesday so that Sophia can spend time with his family. Being away on Christmas day is huge for me and I don’t like it. And being with my ex-husband’s family just isn’t the same as being with mine. But I get to be with my family almost every day and for that, I am really grateful! Happy Holidays!

  5. The tears aren’t unique to Moms. We left half of our family in Ohio when we came back to Oregon. We were the parents who moved, and NOW we are going to be the grandparents who live faraway. Looking at love from both sides now… and it’s good to know that we don’t walk these paths alone.

  6. Thanks for this post. Although I am currently living in my hometown, my husband and I spent the first three years of our marriage (which included the birth if our first child) living 1700 miles away from my family, and the feelings you describe here are all too familiar. Now we have two children (one just born last month) and will likely be moving across the country again this summer. While I dread all those feelings again as we take two babies far away from this home, it helps to remember there are others out there who are in the same boat. 🙂

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