There are lots of reasons why it’s sad to live far from grandparents.** (And aunts, and uncles… And cousins!)
There’s the obvious: it’d be really great to have an extra hand on deck every now and again, and also nice if Dad didn’t have to rearrange his schedule every time someone needed a doctor’s appointment. It’d also be pretty great to have grandparents at things like baptisms, Christmas programs, and birthdays. More importantly, how precious it would be to see the heads of those generations regularly bent together over a project, with skills and quiet wisdom imparted simply through the togetherness. While those moments can and do happen in the midst of whirlwind out-of-town visits, they’re simply not the norm when routines are disrupted and everyone’s clamoring for the scarce novelty of Grandpa’s attention or Grandma’s lap.
Here’s another tough thing about living far from grandparents: it’s so easy for a mom to lose perspective, in the midst of the daily fray, on the hilarious, wondrous small persons in her constant charge. While our parents love our kids just about as unconditionally and fiercely as do we, they are, in some ways, more ideally positioned to appreciate the singular qualities of a child that we’ve lost sight of in the midst of daily disciplinary and educational necessities. I’m ashamed to admit how easy it is for me to fall into thinking of a kid as being a particular issue, rather than as being a marvelously complex person who happens, like the rest of us humans, to have some issues.
It would just be really great if grandparents were here more often to remind me, simply by being with the kids and loving them as only a grandparent can, that Kid B’s maddening quirks are balanced by that special sparkle in his eye and by the hugs that he passes out at day’s end, no matter what’s gone down. And that the vexing habits of Kid A are nothing compared to the comic relief he provides. And that Kid C is still only three, for heaven’s sake, and isn’t his innocent-mischief face just adorable? And that by the time the toddling Girlbaby acquires the competencies that make her easier to live with, much of her squishable-baby-loveness will be outgrown as well.
Ah, the double-edged sword of good grandparents: more to treasure—more to miss.
**I’m not really complaining, especially since I know how much farther many other people are—physically or emotionally—from relatives. Our parents are great about making efforts to stay connected and regularly travel the distance to help out whenever possible. No, I’m not complaining…just thinking greedily ;P