When we graduated from college and made the trek across the country to settle on the East Coast, we left all of my extended family back in the West. I loved growing up with my grandparents and aunts and uncles and dozens and dozens of cousins. Holiday meals together, vacations in Tahoe together, and plenty of shared memories. We lived close enough but not too close. It was a perfect childhood (mostly).
But when CandyMan and I dragged our then-tiny family of three to the East Coast, we left all of that behind. For many years, my kids lived without cousins and aunts and uncles nearby…until my sister moved to the DC area several years ago. We were nearby…but not too close. It was perfect (for me and my sister and for our kids). My kids finally had the chance to develop close cousin relationships, and they loved having them around.
While my sister now loves a little further away, we’re still close enough for Spring Break and holiday get togethers, and my kids and I crave the time we get to spend together. But during normal months, we’re just a little too far away for spontaneous get togethers, and after the winter months, we realized it had been way too long.
Here are a few reasons I wish I loved closer to family:
1- Aunts and uncles are perfect mentors and confidants. I’ve seen my older kids open up to my sister about things they might not want to talk about with me (particularly boy and girl issues).
2- Cousins are a perfect extension of the sibling relationship. They love each other like family, but they don’t see each other so much that they get sick of each other.
3- When family lives nearby, you have a perfect low-cost staycation at your finger tips.
4- Holidays are so much better with extended family and a full table.
5- My own sibling relationships are so much better now that we are all adults….but I only see my other siblings once a year at best. My relationship with my sister Andrea has grown since we’ve gotten to know each other as adults.
6- Automatic babysitting network. I would have loved having my sister close by when my kids were little. Now, though, I send my older girls to her house for a few weeks during the summer to be mommy’s helpers. Kids and aunt and cousins love it equally.
7- This is very me-specific, but my sister Andrea and I dream about the day when we could live close enough where we could open up a photography studio together. I love that we share a mutual hobby and interests.
8- Opportunities to take off my “Mommy hat.” Especially when my kids were younger and under foot, I felt like I never had a true “day off” (or even an afternoon off) until I went to Grandma’s house. Just being near my family makes me feel a little more relaxed and a little less pressured to be “on” all the time.
9- It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on when you’re scattered. As easy as it may be to communicate nowadays, it’s still tough for me to really stay involved in my family’s lives when I am across the country from them (and on a different time zone).
10- Never having to travel for holidays. I know I mentioned holidays earlier. This is different. I love spending holidays with family, but I admit that traveling during the holidays is less than ideal. Knock out the travel factor and it’s perfect.
Do you live near family? What are the benefits and disadvantages of your situation?
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