Living Away from Family

Back in 1994 I decided to move to Seattle. I had recently graduated from college and was just starting to feel that I might know enough to find a job in the computer industry. It wasn’t an easy decision. I grew up in Ogden, Utah and had spent my entire life there except for a few years serving a mission in Germany. My siblings and grandparents all lived within with a 30 mile radius. I still remember the snowy evening when I pulled up to my parents home in a U-Haul with all my possessions while towing a Mazda Miata. I don’t recall my parents being against the move but they didn’t exactly encourage it either. Given the circumstances at the time, I don’t blame them.

So here I am 14 years later still living in the Seattle area. Other than a year we spent in Utah, our family has lived nearly 1000 miles from my  parents. Kim’s family lives nearly 1400 miles from Seattle. But living in Seattle has provided many good experiences. My parents and inlaws love visiting and seeing this gorgeous area. We’ve taken them to our favorite restaurants and forged many great memories during these visits. It’s also fun for our kids to have their grandparents undivided attention.

Yet there are challenges that come with living away from family. We are not as close to our siblings nor do we have the same degree of input on family decisions. We are out of the loop much of the time. Out of sight, out of mind. Also, when relatives live with you for a week or two, they see the good and the bad. Unlike a visit where it’s easier to put on a happy face for three hours, when someone is living with you 24/7 they will inevitably see us at our worst. They will see the day you sleep in, let the house go and allow the kids to eat three meals consisting only of Cap’N Crunch. They will see kids screaming, piles of laundry, and a family who is late for church. In short, they SEE THE REAL US.

Sometimes we wake up grouchy and don’t feel like doing anything. We don’t always eat three balanced meals and occasionally we watch Paradise Hotel and the Real World back to back! When we visit Utah we don’t feel like we fit in anymore. We’ve probably removed “heck” from our vocabulary and replaced it with the real thing.

So if you come visit us, expect more Simpsons less Brady Bunch. We aren’t perfect, but we don’t expect you to be either. And we promise never to hit you up for free babysitting when we visit your home. Deal?

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Comments

  1. It’s harder living away from family when children are involved. We lived away from everyone for several years and then gradually some of them started moving to where we were and I loved it. I don’t think the family members who are together realize how isolated the one living away feels at times. In our case, as in yours, we moved away because of better employment opportunities not because we wanted to ditch the family and get farther from them. We enjoyed some unique experiences on our own but I always missed having extended family around for the big occasions we celebrated and I missed being there when the others met and had family activities. It’s harder than it sounds, isn’t it? We sure enjoy our visits to Seattle and love seing you just as you are. It has been fun sitting up all night chatting in our pj’s sometimes and laughing over the funny things the kids do and say. You’re welcome to come here any time you want a free babysitter … whatever I can entice you with I’ll dangle it like a carrot in front of a … er … rabbit, hehe. You have a cute little rambunctious family and we always expect a bit of noise and chaos whenever we visit any of our kids … in a way it is kind of rewarding because then we know the curse has worked … “When you grow up I hope you have kids just like you.”

  2. All my family and relatives are back in Taiwan, except 1 crazy aunt on the Kitsap Peninsula and 1 uncle in Denver. It was difficult not having family around when I had my son and while my 1st marriage was failing. Hopefully, my parents will be able to visit again soon and stay for a while, now that my father has retired from teaching. The good thing is, the house is big enough for everyone to go to his/her own corners if things get too “real” for anyone. Ha!

  3. I can relate to this post. I remember with one of Dad’s heart operations he insisted that no one call me till he was sure he would recover. He said there was nothing I could do about his situation & did not want me to worry. I said I would at least like the opportunity to decide whether or not I was going to worry. Mom called me when he had his final surgery 3 years later & I made a spur of the moment trip to Utah. It was a very enjoyable trip, & he was happy to see me.

  4. I’m amazed that this post is still so readily available considering you wrote it earlier in the year! Sign? Probably because this time of the year separated families are so highlighted and apparent for many of us.

    Since joining the Lds church my family and I have slowly lost touch regardless of how much I try to keep the bonds going, and as i’m a single parent too the isolation is a total heartbreaker. However, its always nice to hear/read that others are recognising that families are important, even over the miles. I believe anything can happen with enough faith, effort and time.

    Debs

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