When my husband and I decided to start trying for a family, it was a bittersweet time for me. I had always envisioned a childhood for my children similar to the one I had: close to family.
Our game plan had originally been to wait until he was done or almost done with optometry school before starting our family, but not long after he started, the baby fever hit us hard. We saw many other couples in the program able to balance both school and family life, so we decided, “Why wait?”
I have no regrets starting our family earlier than expected. In my opinion, this age is the prime time to be going through the newborn stage – when we’re still young enough to handle it well! However, my heart still aches knowing how far away both Landon’s grandparents are. I know their hearts ache, too.
It was hard for me to give up on this dream in order to have my other dream: children. I still cling to the hope that someday, once Aaron finishes school, we’ll be able to move closer to our parents. However, that, at the time writing this, is still over two years away.
I’ll admit that it’s so hard to not have the convenience and the help of grandparents nearby for days when Landon comes home sick from daycare, we have work/school events outside of office hours, or want to go on a much needed date. Our budget is stretched thin these days, so on the off chance we do get a chance to go out, hiring a babysitter is not a luxury we can easily afford.
Our saving grace has been the friendships we’ve developed, both in the optometry program and in our church through our Sunday School and Small Group.
We’ve been fortunate to be surrounded with other optometry couples who are also having children and facing similar obstacles. Our best friends had a son about four months after Landon was born, so we’ve set up a baby trade. They watch Landon when we need childcare, and in return we watch their son when they need it. So far, it’s worked pretty well.
When I faced pregnancy complications and was on modified bed rest, our Small Group really pulled through for us and brought us meals or gift cards to local restaurants. They even threw me a baby shower down here. We are so blessed to have them.
Having these people have helped lessen the sting of not having our parents nearby. Without them, life would be so, so rough right now. So, my advice to you is to build up a community of people where you live, preferably other parents. Build friendships and put in the effort to keep them going. I recently went consignment shopping with several other optometry moms, and it was so refreshing and rejuvenating. I didn’t know how badly I needed that interaction until we were all together, and I’m looking forward to the next “Mom’s Night Out” we can plan.
Find a church that you can really get plugged into. Attend Sunday School. Join a Small Group or Bible Study. Find mommy support groups or mommy and me classes. When the weather is nice, go to a park and force yourself to talk to other people there. You never know who you might meet, and you won’t know unless you try.
You won’t regret building these relationships, and I guarantee having their support will help get you through the tough times.
I cherish any time I spend with our families now so much more than ever before. I look forward to each time I get to see them, and while it’s a major bummer when we have to leave, that blow is softened knowing the life and community I’m returning home to.
And, know that when you have great friendships and a strong support team, your family will feel better about the distance between you as well. My mom was so thankful for my support team during my pregnancy complications since she wasn’t able to come help.
It’s tough, and I’m even teary-eyed writing this right now, but it’s not impossible with the right support. Hang in there, mama! You can do this.
Any other tips for handling distance relationships with close family members? I’d love to hear them!