Growing Up Without Grandpa and Grandma

Growing Up Without Grandpa and Grandma


One of the hardest things that my wife and I have had to endure is coming to grips with the fact that our children will likely only ever have a limited relationship with our parents.  We relocated to the South in 2011 for job opportunities that were non-existent near our hometowns.  At the time we were excited about beginning a life together and setting out on our own.  We knew that the 800+ mile relocation away from our families would be tough, but we took a chance that has professionally paid off for the both of us.  Of course, every decision comes with a trade off.

My wife and I both grew up in very small rural communities.  While her immediate family is much larger than mine, the common traits between the two are woven into the metaphorical fabric that holds all of its members together.  We’re tight and we’re tough.  Both my wife and I, at one point in our lives, lived next door to at least one of our grandparents.  Holidays, birthdays and special occasions were always spent in a “family first” setting.  From the time of my earliest memories this tradition had always been present and I could never imagine life any different.

I made the realization that the relationship with our parents and our children would be much different almost instantaneously upon announcing that we were pregnant with our first child in the Fall of 2011.  While my wife and I were elated and numb to the fact that we were going to be parents in less than nine months, I still had a very heavy weight on my heart that I did not discover the root of until mid-way through the pregnancy.  I kept this feeling away from my wife for sometime, in fear of setting off a time bomb of nostalgic feelings and homesickness that would tear at our professional ambitions and personal ties to each one of our families.  Life would not be the same and distance would be to blame.  After all, at the time we moved away our childhood homes were exactly 7 miles apart.

The feeling of home and the longing for our child’s time with his grandparents never really went away, we have just learned to cope and accept the fact that they aren’t right down the street.  Instead, we have to settle for the bi-annual trip to the south by the parents and our summer trip return to the north.  The most difficult of all is the fact that our parents get to watch our son grow up via Skype, and not in person.  Again this seems extremely tragic, but we made a choice to set out and better our lives and our future family.

Fast forward to the present.  We recently announced that we are expecting another boy this coming August.  I once again found myself fighting back the same feelings of resentment toward our decision to relocate and the reality that my parents and in-laws are not able to share in the everyday joys of being a part of their grandsons’ immediate lives.  These thoughts were running through my head when I was driving home from a baseball game the other night when the song “Raise ‘Em Up” by Keith Urban and Eric Church came on the radio.  There is a combination of things that we all go through an experience day in and day out.  The culmination of these little experiences mixed with the right timing of intuition, reflection and buried emotion can often lead to a moment of breakdown.  The combination of my thoughts, the countless hours of baseball coaching travel, a recent postponement of visit that my parents had been planning since last Fall, and the song brought me to near tears the other night.  It’s hard filling the void that cannot be filled by your parents as grandparents – the same relationship that you grew up knowing with your grandparents that you never expected to be any different with your parents.  “You’ve got a voice, You’ve got a choice…” are the lyrics from the song that continue to ring in my head when I contemplate the alternative outcome to the beginning our marriage.  Yes, we did have a voice and a choice in our decision and at the time it was in our best interest to pursue avenues that required our moving away from all that we knew.  But the question that always remains is: is this the right way to raise ‘em up?  This is one of those life lessons that I have had a difficult time learning over the past four years.

Learning this valuable lesson has allowed me to develop an positive alternative perspective to our current situation.  Both my wife and I have both of our parents. There are many that cannot say that.  Technology is a fantastic way of connecting (Skype, email, shared photo accounts, etc.) opposed to not being able to connect at all.  Above all, having the means to be able to make at least one trip home a year when many in the same situation may not have the money to fly or a reliable automobile to drive home.

To those of you Everybody Loves Raymond families that are worn out my your parents/in-laws that might live “too close by” – I just want to remind you to consider the alternative.  There may come a day when it no longer exists.  Your children will grow up and appreciate it.  Cherish your time together and value the closeness.  There is surely no substitute.

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Husband. Father. Brother. Teacher. Coach. Sports fan. Weather geek. Backyard vacationer.

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