About seven months ago, myself, my husband, and our two kids moved from the great state of Ohio to southern Florida. After 10 years of often lengthy discussions, my husband's job offered him a new position and within three days we were preparing to leave everything we knew behind. As a result, I've realized there are more than a few things moms want their kid's long-distance grandparents to know. At the top of the list? We're sorry.
Before we moved, my husband and I shamelessly dreamed of relocating somewhere warm, with a beach, because we truly thought a sunny climate would make our problems disappear. We couldn't communicate effectively, I had suffered through postpartum depression (PPD) for over a year, and we both navigated the pain of two miscarriages and fertility struggles. When our second child, our son, was born, we simply ignored the lingering problems in our relationship by focusing on our children. But underneath it all our relationship was suffering, and we truly thought a beach with inviting sand and the calming sounds of the ocean could help us.
Turns out, moving to a different state didn't magically fix the issues we had failed to face. We were left without the support of our community, family, and friends, and in the end not only did our relationship become even more strained, but our children suffered. They miss their friends, they miss their old school, and they miss their family members. Honestly, so do I.
I've been doing a lot of soul-searching since we moved our family to Florida, and I've realized that among the many mistakes made, leaving my children's grandparents behind is at the top of that list. It's difficult to be so far away from them, and that difficulty has made me realize that there are more than a few things my kids' grandparents deserve to know.
We Feel Bad You Can't See Our Kids Every Day
I know it's difficult for my kids' grandparents to go without seeing their grandchildren every single day. I know that. And while I don't want my children to live their lives for the sake of others, I realize that, sometimes, the decisions we make can impact those around us. So, yes: as parents, we feel bad that our necessary choices can put a literal distance between our children and their grandparents.
We Have To Put Our Immediate Family First
Deciding to move far away wasn't a passing thought or a quick decision made on a whim. In the end, my partner and I did what we truly believed was best for not only our children, but our immediate family. We love the fact that our children have loving grandparents in their lives, but, as parents, we will always put the needs of our immediate family first.
We Know It's Not Easy
Like any other life choice, there's positives and negatives associated with living far away from family members. We don't have built in babysitters, our children can't see their grandparents whenever they want, and traveling to see family is expensive.
We know it's not easy, but when it comes to parenting, nothing ever really is.
We Need You To Understand
The whole guilt thing? Yeah, we don't need that. As parents, we face difficult decisions every single day. Sometimes we make the best choice possible, and other times we make a decision we later regret. What we don't need, however, is family members guilt tripping us for making what we always consider to be the best decision possible.
Don't make us feel bad for moving away, or refusing to move closer to you. Don't try and shame us for doing what we have to do for our families. Just, you know, don't.
We Value The Time We Do Get To Spend With You
That whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing is a stereotype for a reason, and we truly value the time our children do get to spend with you. Yes, sometimes traveling to see you is expensive. Yes, taking time off work isn't easy. Yes, getting on a plane with children is arguably the least-enjoyable experience imaginable.
But our children consider trips to grandma and grandpa's to be something special. They have learned not to take that time, or those memories, for granted. That's a beautiful, wonderful thing.
We Make Sure You're Always "Here"
Just because we don't live right next to you doesn't mean we don't think about you, or miss you, or incorporate you into our everyday lives as often as possible. Our kids often talk about the last visit they had with you, and with Facebook, FaceTime, and regular phone calls, it's not impossible to make sure that even when you're not with us, you're with us.
We Can Never Replace You
As grandparents, you have an unique place in our children's lives. So regardless of how far away we physically are form one another, there's no way in hell anyone is filling your shoes. If home is where the heart is, remember: you are our home.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.