Monday, October 19, 2009

How Close Is Too Close?

Another blogger posed this question recently which got me thinking, how close is too close?

How close is living too close to family. Right now my husband, three children, and I live 1700 miles from most of our family. To many people this would be all too far. For me right now, I think it is perfect! Don't get me wrong I love both of our families and miss them (and my friends back home in Colorado) dearly.

I think how close is too close depends upon the point you are in your life and your past. I moved to Colorado with my mom, dad, and sister when I was 10. We left behind most of our family in California, with a few spread out across the country and world, to move to a place where we knew no one. My parents weren't crazy they had wanted desperately to buy a home but homes in Southern California were terribly inflated and they knew they could never catch up. My aunt, uncle, and cousins had lived in the town we moved to previously but a job transfer took them elsewhere a few years prior. My parents never made a lot of money when I was growing up. Needless to say we didn't go visit family during the holidays, we couldn't afford it. As I got older I longed for the big, happy family experience.

Then I met my husband. He lived in Colorado his entire life except his time in the Navy. Every member of his family (parents, sibling, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) all lived within an hour and half of each other and not a single person had moved out of state. Crazy! I thought this would be fabulous, a big, happy family to celebrate and spend time with. After some time I realized this was not how his family worked. His dad's side of the family did family dinners, which I really enjoyed but over time his grandma became ill and everyone got busier and busier and the dinners became almost nonexistent. Hubby's mom side of the family was huge but not tight knit like I expected. We were lucky if we saw them 3 times a year at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and 4th of July. Everyone was nice and friendly but they did not have the close relationships I was expecting.

I had always wanted to move. Before I met my husband I was planning to go to law school in San Diego. I LOVE San Diego! The beach, plus moderate weather, separate from the sprawl called Los Angeles, sounds like paradise to me. Hubby graduated with his degree in Mechanical Engineering last December. He started looking for jobs months before but this was just as the economy was beginning to nose dive. He had an interview in Avon, Colorado, this beautiful mountain ski town. We researched and dreamed how we could create a life there. They made him an offer but it was almost $15,000 per year less than he makes now and the cost of living is more than twice the cost of living as Denver, ouch! Hubby regretfully turned down the offer. He continued looking and continued hoping his temp job at Ball Corporation would offer him a full-time position. The next interview he got was from a company in Honolulu, HI. Also a very high cost of living but living in paradise had its draws. I don't think hubby was that interested since I thought he could've talked himself up more during the interview. He was sure they were going to make him an offer but they respectfully declined. Next he heard from his friend from the Navy that if he wanted to move to Baltimore he could have a job in a heartbeat. He went on the interview swearing he would never live on the East coast again but the money was good for an entry level position and the economy was tanking. I was not comfortable waiting around for his temp job to end and for us to be without any household income. I thought it worked out as it did because it was meant to be. After prayerful consideration he accepted the position.

Now we are 1700 miles away from most of our family and approaching our first Christmas that will be just the 5 of us. I am ok with this. Life is so much simpler when it can be just lived as the five of us. We have plenty of obligations but all of our choosing. We have got to explore a part of the country I had never even visited. We have made new friends, found a new home, and I have loved almost every minute of it.

Do I feel sad when I think how far away everyone is? Yes! Times like last weekend when it was my best friend's baby shower or since hubby's mom is ill and we would want to be by her side or even silly things like when I recall the relationship between the boy I used to watch and B. But I know that time in my life has past. We really have no reason to live in that Southeastern suburb of Denver again. Frankly we were an hour from anyone we knew there but ended up there simply because my FIL had a house we could rent. Do I rule out moving back to Colorado or living close to family again? No, of course not! Is moving back to Colorado something I want now? No, not at all. I am happy here in Baltimore just being the five of us, learning, and growing both as a person and a family. Maybe we will live out or days here, maybe not. Maybe a great opportunity will present itself in San Diego or Colorado or Seattle for that matter, at some point in the future. I am not too afraid of change to embrace a good opportunity. I believe life is about experiences. I am happy I am able to have this experience now as a young wife and mother and I know I will be stronger, and greater because of it.

Next time, I wish my mom still lived down the street so I could stop by and just say hi or she could come watch the kids so we could go out, I will just think, "maybe someday."

39 comments:

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I was just telling Luke recently that you seem to have settled in quickly and that you sound genuinely happy. And I am happy if you are happy.

I would really like to be able to have our own experiences for it to just be the three of us, but I also really enjoy seeing Monkey grow closer to the people that I love too. It is hard. We still daydream but I am just not sure there is a perfect set up.

Gina said...

There are many a time that I would like to be a bit farther away from everyone (at least I can admit it) but then on days like today when I am home sick and my mom comes and picks up L for me, it's nice. We are about 20 minutes away. I think a little further would be perfect.

Children of the 90s said...

I live about 1000 miles from my family, and it definitely have pros and cons. It is nice to have your space, but coordinating a visit takes a lot of work. It does make us appreciate our time together, though!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I am jealous of you. I am WAY, WAY too close to my parents- think 1.1 miles. i cannot wait to put some more distance in between us!

sarah said...

For me, anywhere they can drop by with an hour or less notice is too close!

Ace said...

We used to live within 10 minutes of my parents and are now 450 miles away. I have to say, I've never felt more free!

Tracey said...

You have a wonderful perspective on things! We are currently 400 miles from my family. Would I like to be closer? Definitely. A few years ago we only lived about 3 hours away and it was certainly nice to be able to visit more frequently.

Yet I realize that if we lived in the same area there would be different expectations and such, so I rest in the fact that God has us where we are for a purpose and, should it be His will, a door will open for us to move closer.

Jen said...

you know, I often ask this question, especially since my family lives on the other side of town.

Alicia said...

you know, i've always been fine with distance. i LOVE my family and miss them terribly at times, but on the other hand...i love just being able to do our own thing. it makes me cherish the time we do have together even more. but now i have the perfect mix....my mother lives 5 minutes away and the rest of my family is scattered around the states. while my hubs family mainly live within a 10 mile radius of us... but we've found that for us, it works.

*THE Disneyland Mom* said...

This post really hit home for me. I love about 30-40 miles from my parents yet see them every other month or so. My husband's family is far away/not involved with our kids and my hubby always complains about how my parents won't spend more time with our kids or help us out with them. I try to explain to him that we just have to make the best out of life and pretend we live hours away instead of minutes. I will be sharing your post with him. Thank you for it.

Valerie Neal said...

Cruisin by from the SITS Link Up while enjoying my coffee. We live 7 hours from my parents, further from the rest of my family. My husband's family is local, but we don't bother each other too much. My Mother In Law on the other hand is too far way. We are like Naomi and Ruth, which is funny because we switch roles, maybe sometimes we are a tad bit more like Lucy and Ethyl. My husband enjoys the fact we are too far apart, we would run the roads constantly, she has a Kohl's card (10% discount on everything-good on sales and coupons), gets their special mailings (again good with specials and coupons), and get's the senior discount (yet again usable with all the above even clearance.

As far as being too close, my beloved MIL has a saying, "Family & Company, like fish, begin to smell after three days".

Kim said...

Hi, I'm stopping by from SITS. The distance either forces or allows you to build your own relationships and traditions, which can be pretty fun.

Natasha said...

Good post. We live 20mins drive from my in laws. I think "too close" depend on the relationship one has with their family. Some people are happy to have their family living far away - perhaps because they need their personal space or don't get along well with their family. Others prefer to live really close together.

Karen said...

I'd love to live near my family if I had the big, close, happy family experience. I used to live alone 700 miles away while I was in college. I moved back to be closer to them and don't see them much more frequently than when I lived in another state.

I think there is nothing wrong with living far away. Especially in these days of free long distance and webcams and all.

Rebekah Costello said...

Love your blog! (Came over from SITS). I'm happy you are "here" in Baltimore, it's a great "Little Big City". We moved away for a year and at the time, I didn't think I'd miss it much. I was wrong! I love this little city! (Ok, I live in the co. but still!)

If you wanna check me out, I just moved to thoughtfulmomma.com

Marie said...

I haven't ever lived close to my family, so it was always us 4...Mom, Dad and Sister. I married a man just like that.

Now that isn't to say I don't love my Grandma, Aunts/Uncle and cousins we try and see them 1x a year it's just different from others, we haven't ever celebrated holidays together for instance....

Donnetta said...

My mom is about an hour and a half away, and my in-laws are about 3 hours. Not too close, not too far. It makes it easy for holidays but not a strain on our everyday life.

Happy SITS day!

Anita said...

Michelle, I blogged about this not too long ago. I love 1000 miles from my family, they are in TX I am in FL. Yes I miss them, but I'm also accustomed to this arrangement after 20+ years. Friends that have never moved away from their families don't always get it.
Enjoy your SITS day, I'm enjoying reading your blog.

ConnieFoggles said...

I love having my family close. It's how I grew up. Now we're spread all over the place now. Even my daughter lives about 800 miles away from me. I hate it!

Young Wife said...

Happy SITS Day! It's so interesting that I'm reading this today. Yesterday I found out DH and I are moving from Dallas to NJ. ALL of our family is here, and we're close. This was so encouraging to me!

Mandi Miller said...

I completely understand. My family lives in Texas but my husband and I live in Alabama. I really miss them but I really like it just being "our" family too! Happy SITS Day!!

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Happy Sits day. I hope I can figure out anything you are talking about in your tutorials I am pretty new to all this. We live close to most family but still only see them on holidays, etc. because of such busy shedules. My own kids are starting to grow up and move out. One lives about 20 miles away and I do wish it was closer. I am very careful to stay uninvolved or judgemental of her decisions, we have more of a friendship now than a mother daughter relationship. I let her grow up and enjoy the person she is now. The others, I just pray they move back her to Calif. when college is done. I always wanted a big, close family. All in all, I know we will be one happy family because we will work hard at it! We need everybody here to keep all our traditions alive!

Cybil said...

Happy SITS Day! After 10 years away from Pittsburgh, we moved back. It seems like Pittsburghers are always trying to get back to Pittsburgh. It was a big decision to come back and be near my husbands family again. Fortunately it has worked out well.

gina said...

I think moving out of state uis adventerous sounding- my husband thinks that's because i haven't really ever traveled much. We moved out of the city we both grew up in, to give the girls a samll town life. And then had to move again when our house filled with black mold. We ended up south of where we grew up , half an hour away from family- which is good- we get the best of both worlds-they are close enough to visit, but far enough away that you need to call an plan it first. Howeve, someday I would love to move South. I don't hink i'd mind a bit.

Sabreena said...

My dad actually lives with us and though it's good at times recently it's become a pain (he's not ill or anything). The rest of the family is about 4-7 hour drive away and I prefer it. It sucks always having someone in your home and since he has lived with me since I first met my husband we have never lived alone. I think I prefer a close drive to right here.

Tanisha Rankins said...

I think it's great that you adjust well to change. I am a huge advocate of change, and think it makes life more interesting. However, from experience, I've learned that it's not the best idea to live to close to family. When I was married, because both of our families had their original traditions, they didn't understand why we wanted to create our own. They somehow felt that we should continue to do as we had before we got married. Additionally, being too close caused family to be comfortable involving themselves in our lives. I commend you on your move and wish you much happiness. From a fellow Sitsta:)

Meanbean said...

what a huge adjustment! It sounds like you're enjoying it though. I like to think that if I were in your situation, I'd be enjoying it too, getting to focus more on our little immediate family, etc.

I agree with what you said, about it being different for everyone. Our current "close" is way too close for most people - we live with hub's parents! It's such a blessing for us, and our daughter, and I can't imagine moving away from them, though I know it'll happen one day.

she knows she's lucky, and has said several times that she is, most kids don't live with thier grandparents, or see them more than at Christmas. Every family has a "good range" of close, and ours just happens to be the other end of the house ;)

Kekibird said...

Yeah, we're a tight knit family. We all live within minutes of each other. There is only one uncle that lives with his family in Northern California, a good 8 hour drive from us. But, this is always how it's been and no one seems eager to move away. And, no one seems to mind.

Miz Dinah said...

Yeah, it's nice to have them close enough to visit but far enough that they have to call before coming. I think an hour's drive is good.

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

I also live far from family, by choice. there are days when I wish my mom was just down the street, but most days, I love being the 5 of us too! :)

Sarah With Scissors said...

I have moved around a lot in my adult life and right now I'm almost the perfect distance. It's a 6 hour drive, so doable when you want too, but no out of the blue visits. When I need Dad to overhaul something he can come up and help, but I'm also forced to learn how to fix the plug-in myself. Perfect for independence but support.

pixielation said...

I sort of know how you feel - I live in London, and my parents live in Sydney. I don't want to live next door to them, but I do wish I lived in the same country.

KimJohnson said...

We are 500 miles from both our families and I've got to admit it is just about perfect!! All of my family and my hubs family and my ex hubs and his family all live with 30 minutes of each other. 500 miles from us. Yeah!

Angry Julie Monday said...

We live in So Cal. It is sooo expensive here. We've wanted to move for a very long time. But alas I'm an only child and my parents would completely freak if we moved away. Yet, my mom calls me about 15 times a day, which drives me absolutely insane.

gamommy2two said...

My husband always says "Home is wherever I want it to be." Brilliant, really. I live only about 30 minutes from my dad but they rarely come visit (birthdays, Christmas and that's it). However, my mom lives about a 10 hour drive away and come to visit more often actually. I prefer living our lives without family too terribly close. It lets us live it as we want and not have those obligations like you said.

Lill said...

I think about 3 to 4 hours is a perfect distance. Close enough to spend a weekend, but not so close it doesn't require planning.

Right now, we are 11+ hours from my whole family. Hubby's family is all relatively close by. In fact, until a year ago, we lived across the street from his parents. Ew! I'll be very glad when we can move closer to my family!

Mom of the Twinkies and Tot! said...

You are brave! I could not be that far away from all my family...but like you said, it depends on the time in your life you are at. Right now my kids are little little and my mom is their caregiver when my husband and I are at work...so we would be lost without our family. One day however, that might change and being farther away might not be as unthinkable as it feels right now.

Leslie Limon said...

Happy SITS day! My life is completely opposite. We live 3 houses down from my in-laws. And around the corner from hubby's grandmother. 3 of my hubby's siblings still live in town and if we don't see eachother during the week, we all get together for lunch at my in-law's home on Sunday.

I'm completely used to it now, but it wasn't always easy. I'm glad that you are comfortable in your new town. :D

Simply Me said...

I live quite a distance from both my family and in laws and i dont mind it but sometimes you really wish they were closer .. and that thought makes me appreciate our time together so much !
Happy SITS day to u