Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

We finally made it to Texas late Saturday night. It was great to see my parents and get settled in. Their house is so beautifully decorated! My mom is just as much a freak about Christmas as I am, so seeing the winter wonderland that she put together made me finally feel Christmas-ey. I hated not buying a tree this year, but it just wasn’t worth the money when we wouldn’t be there to enjoy it.

Yesterday we drove out to see the Ogre’s family, none of whom had met Liam. They were so happy to see him, and we were so happy to see them! We haven’t seen our niece and nephews since May, and the visit was so short then that we barely got to spend any time with them. Our newest little nephew Louie was born while we were visiting, so in my mind he was still a newborn. But he’s so big now!

It makes me sad to see them growing up so fast. I don’t even know them; they’re practically strangers. We know each other by pictures; in our house, we show the kids pictures of their aunts, uncles and cousins all the time. We started this so Sienna wouldn’t forget the people who love her; now it’s become a way for Charlotte (and eventually Liam) to begin to know these people they spend so little time with. I know that in our siblings’ houses they do the same thing, that our precious little niece and our darling nephews know us as the pictures on the wall, not as living, breathing people who love them to pieces.

When we first moved to Las Vegas, it was liberating. We needed the space. The Ogre and I had many issues to work through in our marriage and we needed breathing room to do it. We had one daughter and another on the way, and moving away gave us the chance to figure out who we were as a family, apart from the families we grew up with. It was a great experience; we’ve learned so much, we’ve become better parents, and our relationship is so different, so much better. We love each other more fully than we did before.   We’re more gentle with each other. We listen to each other better.

It was necessary for the survival of our family to get away. But now that we’ve grown so much, we’re starting to feel the pangs of being so far from the other people we love the most. I hate watching my little godson grow up through pictures on his mama’s blog. I want to be there on his birthdays to squeeze him and kiss him and tell him about the day he was born, how we were so sure he was going to be a girl, how his mom was so brave, how his daddy was so proud he was practically bursting, how being made godparents for the first time was almost like having another child of our own. I hate watching our delicate little niece grow up so far from her other female cousins. I want to be there for her, and for her mom, to help them navigate the world of early girl-dom. Those waters can be treacherous, and I wish I could be there to show them the mistakes I made so they won’t have to make the same ones. I hate the fact that I barely know little Louie, that if I saw him in a crowd of other babies I wouldn’t even be able to pick him out as my nephew. It’s heartbreaking.

I miss my brothers-in-law too. I miss their horribly inappropriate jokes and the way the Ogre laughs around them, the way he’s someone with his brothers that he never is with anyone else. I wish our daughters had their uncles around all the time, to toughen them up a little and give them a little extra love. I miss my sister-in-law, the way she comes through a room like a tornado, all spit and fire with half her sentences coming out in Italian.

And it’s worse with my own family. At least my in-laws have kids of their own to keep them busy; my sister, my brother and his wife, and my littlest brother who’s just now in college only have my kids. My parents have only three grandchildren who live halfway across the country. It kills me that I can’t just drop by with the kids whenever I want, that my sister can’t come pick up Charlotte to go shoe shopping (their mutual favorite activity), that I can’t drive Sienna down to A&M; for a surprise visit to her uncle Jackson, who she loves probably more than she loves me and the Ogre, and who could probably get a lot of girls if he walked around campus with his adorable niece. I wish I could make annoyingly frequent visits to my brother and sister-in-law’s house with Liam, so they’d get baby fever and have a child of their own. I miss my grandparents, and I hate that my kids get to see them so infrequently. I know they don’t have many more years left to spend with them.

I know that God’s plan for us, for now, is to stay in Vegas. I know that it may be in His plan for us to never come back to Texas, but I really hope not. I’m trying to be patient and wait, but I’m not very good at it. I really hope that one day soon we’ll all be together again, and not just for whirlwind visits when we’re all so busy we barely see each other. I want to be able to kidnap my little niece and nephews for raucous sleepovers involving popcorn, movies and way too much candy. I want to make big dinners for my parents and siblings while they all play ping-pong in the living room. I want to drop my kids off with their grandparents so the Ogre and I can actually have a conversation.

Actually, now that I’ve said it, maybe that’s really what I miss the most. Free babysitting.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15481871318367373753 Meaghan

    I am so happy that you are having a nice visit! Happy Birthday, dear Charlotte!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10135272827538989265 Andrea

    I can relate to this in every way. I'm thankful that my husband and I have had time to form a family on our own, but quite frankly, this afternoon wouldn't be soon enough for me to move home to Texas. I hope it's in God's plans for our future…I'm in a constant state of homesickness.I have 4 little sisters who are in elementary school and jr. high, it feels like I'm missing out on their lives and it breaks my heart.I hope you have a lovely stay in Texas, and I'm glad you guys made it safely!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12557248434888642114 Melanie B

    I feel the same way. I wish we could move to Texas to be near my parents and my brothers and so many friends. Of course, our situation is a little different in that if we did move to Texas it would only reverse things. Then we'd be far away from all of Dom's family. In fact since I'm the only married one of my siblings, the kids wouldn't have any cousins nearby to play with. So I can see why in some ways things are better here. But I'd still move to Texas in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose. I know God has a plan for us and I need to trust him; but it is still hard to miss everyone so much. Especially as this year we won't be able to make a Christmastime visit since Christmas is too close to my due date.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03446744635277205867 mrsdarwin

    Having just moved back near family, I have to say: free babysitting is sweet. But even sweeter is watching the interaction between my siblings and parents and my kids — my sister teaching my girls how to sing, my brother teaching my son about Nerf guns, Grandpa keeping up a steady stream of babytalk to the small thing nestled in the crook of his arm while he reads. And I like watching my husband interact with my family as well. Each of them have facets of their personality that only the other can bring to light.However, I will miss seeing Melanie on her jaunts to Austin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00742584679868819478 The Rowles

    ooooh how I feel like I could have written this post! Although we are the ones in TX while our family is elsewhere. I know it has helped our relationship, but we have TOTALLY missed out on the free babysitting!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    aryPoppins-Thanks for leaving this. I'm visiting family right now so I haven't had time to click through to your link, but I will soon. I'm really interested to read it because this subject is very interesting. Melanie-agree, agree, agree, particularly the idea of not living a marriage in a void. Great point. And the idea of serious harm…also good, but also hard to judge. After all, harm can be insidious and only clearly seen years in the future. Interesting. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    Uh, whoops. Wrong post. Sorry guys, still figuring out my way around my Dad's Mac.

  • http://secretvaticanspy.com Kassie

    I'm dying for Texas and I'm only three hundred-ish miles away. Can't imagine being all the way in NEVADA. You, ma'am, win the Patient Texan Of The Year award.