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Appreciating the true value of family

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I want to get to know you better. In fact, there’s something in particular I want to know about you: how close do you live to your own family and can you rely on each other for mutual support?

family, isolation, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, support
Raising my family miles away from my own relatives not only makes me feel on my own, but I feel like I can’t provide them the support I should. Pic credit: Maxim Smith (Creative Commons).

There’s a reason I ask. With Christmas and New Year having just passed, Mrs Adams and I did the usual whirlwind tour of relatives.

On Christmas Day itself, we visited my family, a hundred miles away in the Cotswolds.  After that, we drove the 450-ish miles to Scotland so we could spend Hogmanay with Mrs Adams’ family.

It’s at times like this I appreciate just how far apart we are from our blood relatives. Many of the couples I know live close to at least one set of parents. Alas, we live nowhere near either set.

It took me a long time to appreciate the implications of this. We’ve never been able to rely or even ask grandparents or uncles and aunts to babysit or help with childcare. We’ve always had to reply on professional childcare and this has hit our bank balance very hard over the years.

Helen and Izzy love spending time with their grandparents. When I say love, I mean capital L. Alas, they don’t get to see either set more than three or four times a year. The same goes for uncles and aunts.

Each time we see our parents they tell us how they wish they lived closer. They’d like to help us out more.

Being a stay at home father muddies the waters further. While I do have mum and dad friends I can sometimes call upon when I need help, I don’t have a network of ‘mum friends’ that can help out when life hurls something unexpected in my direction.

It’s not, you understand, that Mrs Adams and I think we’re entitled to help from family. That’s not the case at all.

I do, however, sometimes find myself wishing we were that bit closer to our families. It would be great for my kids to see more of their relatives. I won’t deny that it would also be great to have blood relatives around who we could rely on for help every now and again. I can think of times when this would have made life considerably easier.

Then again, this works both ways. I see our parents getting older and they are going to increasingly need our help. My two brothers and their wives are both expecting their first children.

I don’t really feel like I am around enough for them as it is. Once they have kids of their own, I’d love to be around to offer what help I can. It would also be nice if the cousins could grow up together.

There’s a certain irony to all this. When I was in my teens and twenties I couldn’t get away from my family quick enough. Now I’m older, I want to be nearer to them but the choices I’ve made mean it isn’t going to happen, certainly not any time soon.

If I had stayed near my family, I wouldn’t have followed the crazy-paved career path I did. It’s all so complicated, I don’t know what the correct answer is. I do, however, know that as I get older, I value family more than ever.

4 thoughts on “Appreciating the true value of family”

  1. I have exactly the same thoughts John.

    My family live 285 miles away from us in England and my wife’s family are over in Ireland. We don’t get to see either sides of the family as much as we’d like.

    Again it was through employment decisions that we live so far away. I don’t regret that, although sometimes I wish we lived closer. Edinburgh is still a great place to bring the kids up though!

    My wife applied for a job within an hour’s drive of my parents a few months ago. They were very excited. My wife got an interview but didn’t get through to the second round.

    I know she wants to move on in her career so it will only be a matter of time until we are on the move again. Where we end up depends on where the jobs are at the time. With me being at home it doesn’t really matter where we end up.

    1. I can imagine Edinburgh is a much nicer place to raise kids than many English cities. Like you, it was careers and money that bought me to London. Same for most people I think.

      I don’t regret that. I’m not the kind of person who was ever going to live out their life in their hometown. Interestingly, however, my brothers have both married girls who live much closer to home. I’ll be interested to see what sort of lives they lead when their kids arrive. Very different to mine I’m sure.

  2. I was heart-broken when my twin-sister told me she was moving 160 miles away to live closer to her husband’s family; even more so when they had a baby the following year.
    However, after 5 years it turns out her husband doesn’t want to be a Dad anymore and she is divorcing him and looking to move back to my area.
    Even though it’s all very sad news, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my sister and niece and providing the support she’ll need as a single mum.
    Another point to make is we’re having children older these days, so the grandparents are naturally older too, with less energy for toddlers!
    In this day and age I think it’s really important to consider living closer to each other – despite the video calls and “always online” status it does feel like we are closer together yet further apart.

    1. What a horrible situation your sister finds herself in. That said, I hope you enjoy spending more time with each other. Great point about us all having kids later in life. I hadn’t thought of that.

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