Snark is real in this day and age. It comes from everywhere, our kids, partners, social media, your friends, and the mailman. You never expect to get it from your parents about decisions you’ve made as an adult. At least I didn’t expect this to happen to me.
Not until I got married and had my own kiddos. Then I moved those kids the equivalent of a 15-hour car ride away from my parents.
Now I get the snark on the regular.
“Well, if you didn’t move so far, I could babysit for you.”
“And whose decision was it to move so far away? Not mine.”
“I can spend time with my other grandbabies because they live here and not far away.”
“I’d be happy to give you a break if you lived closer.”
“Whose decision was it to not be around family?”
I can go on and on. And I’ll be honest, at first, I’d chuckle and think, they miss our kids. It’s natural to feel a little frustrated and want to say something. That was eight months ago.
It’s now gotten to the point where I’m ready to say something. It could be that maybe they don’t realize the pain the comments are putting on my partner and me. Or it could just be that they are truly upset and want to continue to voice their opinions. I come from a family where aunts, uncles, cousins, and my siblings live in the same town or within a five-hour radius.
Of course, I hate being so far from my hometown. But my hometown just doesn’t fit the needs of our family. My hometown doesn’t have seasons and doesn’t have the type of school I want my kids to attend. My hometown doesn’t provide the diverse group of friends my kids have become accustomed to. Let’s also mention the food scene in my hometown, while delicious, focuses on a diet that doesn’t work for our family. It’s been argued that it is getting better, which is very true, but it would still mean a lot of planning and sourcing that I currently don’t have to deal with.
My main point is that by moving away from what I’ve known, I’ve grown in ways I never imagined. It takes you out of your comfort zone, especially with children. You learn to lean on a community you need to build yourself, and you are even more grateful for those who want to be a part of your inner circle. The friendships you see your children grow and blossom are even more meaningful because they had to grow organically versus being from family or because you’ve been thrown together due to family obligations. Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to have a great relationship with their cousins, aunts, and uncles, but I also want them to learn to create a community outside their immediate family.
One of my goals towards the end of 2022 and into 2023 has been to learn to be happier and defend my actions. This terrifies me as an individual who has been pretty silent on what bothers her regarding things my family says and does.
I’ve seen other family members become so consumed by disagreements that you can feel the tension in the room when we gather for important events like funerals, graduations, births, or weddings. I don’t want that to be the case with my parents and me, but I also cannot continue to allow such heavy statements to eat away at me. This is what I’ve decided to start doing.
When I get a comment about the distance, I’ll remind them that we have plenty of room for them to come and stay. We mindfully chose a home that would give them the space to stretch and relax. Our home can provide them with their own sanctuary when they get overwhelmed with our children’s antics.
If the topic of not wanting to be near family is brought up, I’ll remind them that one of my aunts lived furthest away from us, and when we spent time with them, it made those memories much more meaningful.
My favorite snarky comment “Whose decision was it to move so far away?” Gets the longest and most in-depth reply. I remind my parents that their grandchildren are getting experiences I couldn’t have given them elsewhere. I talk about the seasons that we get to see. I remind them about the frequent hikes we get to go on and how our kids jump into rivers and study tadpoles, fish, and the currents. I discuss how we can go to dinner in one city, have ice cream in another that’s only 10 minutes away, and then finish the evening off with playing around our calm and peaceful neighborhood until bedtime.
If my parents try to bring up how unbearably cold it gets here (compared to my hometown), I talk about how we get to learn about layering clothing. I tell them that I’m teaching my kids to relax their bodies and rest just like the animals we recharge during the winter. I also remind them that my kids are getting to experience snow, getting to go to events like the German Christmas market, seeing that activities can still be done even when the world is cold and dark. This is living. I’ll finish our conversation by reminding them that their grandchildren have longed to see them, and we’d be happy to purchase a plane ticket for the dates that work best for them.
I don’t expect the snarky comments to stop, just like I don’t expect my family ever to stop being upset that we’ve moved so far away. But we plan to visit them every year, whether they come here or we go to them. I hope the memories created live in a happy space in my kids’ minds for years to come and will sustain them when we are far away from family.
Let’s take a moment for some honesty; yes, being closer would make my life so much easier. I’d get more free nights to spend with my husband and more opportunities to bond with the nieces and nephews I have. It would mean that I’d get to see my parents more often, but it would be doing a disservice to my children, who benefit significantly from being here, from living a life t never had the chance to. So I’ll take the snarky comments, respond with love and a bit of fight, and appreciate where I am when the call ends.