Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yards Not Miles

Some people are lucky enough to have their grown children living nearby. Their whole family in fact pretty much sticks close to the town or at least the state where they were born. They have lunch together on Sunday afternoons and send the leftovers home with whoever wants them. They borrow coats and books and angel food cake pans, and they say hey, let's see a movie next week. They go to ballgames and the farmers market and that new restaurant a neighbor said was good.

And some people live in England while their babies attend university in America.

Or they live on the East Coast while their little girl and the boy she married live on the West Coast.

Or they teach school like a grown up in South Carolina, miles and miles and miles from you.

If your grown children live nearby you may not relate to the cycle of feelings one experiences when children live a day or flight or ocean away. How you start counting down the days on the calendar until 'next time' before 'this time' even gets here. How the anticipation and excitement of seeing your child in the flesh bubbles up in the weeks before a visit, and you know you need to squash that down a little, because they will come and go in what feels like the blink of an eye. You want to throw your heart wide open, but a part of you understands the need for a little self-preservation too.

You know from years of practice that after every hello there will be a goodbye, and that goodbye will hover over your time together if you let it. You understand all too well the supreme effort required to push the end of a visit to the actual end so you don't spend all day Saturday thinking about that airport run on Sunday. You learn something important.

You learn to be present.

We are those people. Those parents whose children have lived away from home since graduating from high school. Whose every trip back to us, to home, has required massive logistics, airports, delays, dollars, lost luggage, traffic jams, toll booths, connections, and hour upon hour in a car-train-plane. We've made peace with this because you cannot show your children the world, tell them it's theirs for the taking, and then demand they live next door.

Can you?
No I don't think you can.

Do  I want to?
Only sometimes.

Mostly I'm so thankful to see my daughters flourish in a world that is hard and often harsh. To see them chase their dreams and live out goals they set for themselves before they could even articulate them as such. To watch as they seek out and follow God's call on their lives.

I absolutely love having young adult children. I love their wit and their style and their compassion and their brains. My once upon a time baby girls have grown into the women I always imagined they would be, only better. They're interesting, independent, funny, and smart. I'm completely amazed at the way genes combine to give us children who are uniquely themselves, yet so much like us we recognize a turn of the wrist or a tilt of the head...their smallest hint of displeasure unexpressed and the drive behind that furrowed brow. A smile that springs from somewhere deep.

If you're in the throws of toddlerhood or living out the drama of the middle years, know the young adult years are worth every ounce of sweat and love and prayer you're pouring in today.

Keep loving well.

We moved into an apartment in South Carolina last Saturday. The same apartment complex my Daughter2 calls home. I can't explain how much I love our new living situation. Yesterday hubs and I were pulling out of a shopping center and noticed someone waving to us from the red light across the street. It was my girl! I guess that sounds a little silly, but y'all we're neighbors and just knowing she's nearby, within walking distance actually, makes my heart sing.

We had breakfast with her last Sunday, I helped set up her classroom on Monday, she walked over for dinner on Tuesday, and on Wednesday she and I enjoyed an hour of mindless but awesome TV aka Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team.  Then I walked the few yards home and she did some work to prepare for the new school year.

When your family lives hundreds or thousands of miles away, every trip back, every single visit, requires moving in with them, operating out of suitcases, interrupting routines, settling for makeshift-it's only for a few days-kind of living. We're used to this, and since our extended families are spread out still we'll continue doing so because it's family and we love them.

But I feel like I've been given a little gift here. A bright spot in the midst of what has been literally nine years of schlepping bags and boxes, of longing for just one more day, one more hour, one more minute of in person time with my girls.

Sometime in the next year we'll move again, still nearby but not within walking distance. Daughter2 will also re-locate one day, and Daughter1 will definitely move from the west coast to ???, maybe closer maybe further and I celebrate that, I really do. I celebrate their willingness to meet life head on, to set down roots, but also to pick them up and re-plant somewhere new when change comes calling.

And it will come calling, again and again and again, which is why I'm going to settle in. I'm going to breathe deeply and embrace with my whole heart this season of geographic nearness. Years of hello and goodbye have taught me a great appreciation for the now.

My feet are so ready for the now, for walking yards instead of miles....

... and loving every single step. 


  1. A beautiful post, Joyce. So happy for you all!!

  2. I'm going to print this one out!! Tears in these ol' eyes for you could have been writing about my life. 3 sons. Taught to be very independent; yet, when they were successful at that, it was sad. For I knew they were far away, doing exactly what we taught them to do, which made me so proud, but I then realized I wished they were doing it closer to me. But it's all good. Like you said, we want them to experience all life has to offer even if it's not in our back yard.
    Thanks for your words. Nice to know I'm not alone in my thoughts

  3. What a beautiful, moving, well written post Joyce. I am fortunate that my three +3 are all close. They have flown away at times but always returned. Even my youngest who has an American wife has chosen to settle here for the time being. I count my blessings all the time.

  4. Enjoy this time together!!
    Glad you got down there safe and sound, hopefully you can relax after your hectic summer!

  5. Perfect. While I can't relate exactly, I understand. My brother and I grew up in Maryland. Now I live in Nova Scotia and my brother lives in South Korea. For a week in July, my parents had us all home. It was spectacular!

  6. Oh Joyce, this is so well written. I'm blessed to have my daughter nearby, but I also know that could change at a moment's notice, so I cherish these days for as long as they last.

  7. Such beautiful words Joyce! I agree with all of this - it is a different feel when you don't have to cram everything into a weekend and anticipate saying another goodbye. Enjoy every moment of this bonus time :-)

  8. Welcome to South Carolina. I hope you will love it!

  9. Joyce, I've thought of you so often, and how hard it must be to have your family so spread out! (as you know, we're the people in the first paragraph of your post) I'm so happy you finally have one daughter close by. Treasure the moments :)
    Kathy (Reflections by Kathy)

  10. What a great read. I'm delighted for you to be enjoying your daughter nearby. My brother and sil have two sons living in opposite corners of the world with my brother and sil in the middle. My heart aches for them because I know they would love having their kids as close as ours are.

  11. I can relate and I didn't even realize how hard it was for my family when I moved my family away 27 years ago. For 38 years of my life it was nothing but family gatherings all the time and I feel guilty for taking my children away from that. I love having young adult children too and would never deny them their happiness. Adam & Tristen will be in town today and spending the night with us. I can't wait!!! The only thing I wish for and plan to do is move to where the grandchild is someday because I can't bear to be a far away grandmother. Just Breathe......

  12. I really needed this. This adjustment to Reagan living in another state, with Hayden to follow this week has been ROUGH. I totally get what you say about being in the present because it was a supreme struggle not to spend Reagan's visit here dreading her leaving. But you're so right - if you do that you'll ruin the whole trip.
    Faith, Reagan and I LOVE the DCC. We watched all of an old season while she was here.

  13. Yes, we try to teach our children to be independent and strong, yet, when that is exactly what they become, a part of us wants to reclaim some of that and shout, "I'm not ready! Need Me!" When we went through our first retirement (yes, we did it twice), we moved to be near our son and his family and nearer to our daughter and hers. After one year, our son moved away leaving us only nearer the daughter and far away from him. In the process though, we found a new home and are so grateful for God's timing in moving us here. We always look forward to traveling those thousands of miles to visit our Indiana family because son is doing exactly what God helped us prepare him to do. Be a productive, successful husband, father and member of society.

  14. Love this Joyce! I am so excited for you! What fun to be so close!

  15. I cannot be any more happy for you than I am right now! :) I have read through many a post that included the hellos and goodbyes, and now you can include the adventures of being near. I am in the midst of raising 5 teenagers, one in college, a senior, a sophomore, and two 8th graders so I have been MIA here in blogland. I do check in every once in awhile and I especially enjoy coming back to "This Side of the Pond". I've missed you, my blog friend.