I've always felt very strongly that families should support one another. That we should be there for our family in any time of need as much as we are able. That even in the littlest things, it is a family duty that we should be expected to fulfill without issue and without complaint. Ironically, I've never enjoyed romance novels although my husband has tried at least to get me to watch the English dramas on Masterpiece from time to time.
We don't really live near any family. I mean we're in the same state as my immediate family, but it's a 6 hour drive with the kids, 5 hours if you push really hard and disregard a few speed limit signs. My husband's family is even further, we just saw my mother-in-law and her husband for the first time in 3 years (and it was a wonderful visit, I think the best we've ever had!) Sometimes, it's not so bad being on our own. The family duties aren't so much. But mostly, it's hard being separate.
A couple years ago Papa (my grandfather) came down with severe Alzheimer's. It pained me not to be there to help Grandma. I did make a couple visits before his death, but it just wasn't the same. I mean there is only so much you can do from the phone, and to not be there, to not help and see, it's so hard to really know for sure that you understand. To make it worse, he always did better when I was there. Probably because there were so many new changes with me, I am the only one that has young kids, my husband is a relatively new introduction to the family, etc. Still, ya just wanted those days to last, for it to always be good, but we just couldn't do it. We live too far away and we've always had these crappy jobs where you just can't get time off to go anywhere for very long, and driving on the weekend in a car with no AC and two small kids, it just wasn't practical.
My sister assures me I did the best I could, but it's not just the big stuff that bothers me. I miss the little things. I practically spent my summers with Papa. My grandparents were always coming over or we were going over there, sometimes with my parents, sometimes without. When I broke my arm it was Papa and my uncle that took me to the doc-in-the-box. It was my grandma that stayed with us after the drunk hit my mom and sister on an overpass.
This last winter I had my own crisis, and it was my mother and father who came to help, but it wasn't easy. First it had to be super serious (which it was) and second they only got to come because they were both conveniently unemployed. Granted, prior to that my mother had worked for my grandma and Grandma definitely would have done everything in her power to get her here, but what it she hadn't been able to? My Mom missed the births of all of my children, the first because she didn't get the call in time (heck there was no way my labor was less than her driving time) and the next two she didn't even try, there was just no way. For the birth of my second child my oldest had to sleep in the hospital with us, we had no one that could watch her. I still wonder if it wouldn't have been easier on my younger daughter if we'd done the same the next time, but a friend was watching them and the nightmares have finally stopped so I guess there is no real harm done.
But it's not just the big things, it's the little stuff. I miss building with my dad. I miss having my sister around. I miss the idea of random family events. I miss having someone to call who can help when I'm going crazy and just need to get out. I miss having Grandma telling me, "If that's the worst of your problems, you'll be just fine." Don't get me wrong, the distance has been good too, but there are real times where I wish we had family around.
It's not like we haven't tried to move closer, I mean we don't really want to live where any of our family lives, but that doesn't mean we haven't applied for jobs there. I mean where we are now the schools are so committed and growing up near my folks, yeah, doesn't happen. We have access to theater and community spaces, where my parents are the biggest topic of conversation revolves around whatever show was on TV the night before, or worse, whatever game. Even though I may binge on the occasional TV series I'm very glad it's not the only thing I have to talk about. My inlaws aren't much better off. Not to mention they have even few jobs in their immediate area as it is very rural.
I'm not unhappy with where I live, but sometimes I really miss being able to depend on my family to be there. Worse yet, I feel like I am letting them down by not being there for them. I guess it is better than nothing though. I really feel for those who don't even have a family to pine for, or one worth pining for. I mean what are they to do when catastrophe strikes? Hope their government family steps up and helps out, yeah not in this country mate.