Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The distance between us.

This afternoon I walked my Mum to her departure gate at Calgary airport. As always, I held back the tears as I hugged and kissed her goodbye, and walked away with my two little boys, not sure when I'd next see her again.

"Where's Nana?" Matthew asked, a few moments later in the car.

"She's on the airplane." I explained. "Going home to see Grandad."

"Oh." He said, thoughtfully, looking up to the sky.


At times like this, the distance between us is measurable not by miles or kilometers, but by the enormous gap that unfolds between us again as we say our goodbyes.

We'll return to our phone calls, our skype calls, our emails, our photograph exchanges. But it's not the same as sitting together in the kitchen, chatting about random events and imparting our opinions on politics / the weather / the price of apples over coffee.

The challenges of being away from family (especially those you genuinely get on with) are huge. In some ways, it doesn't make sense - to move away from the core you've grown up with, to start a new life alone, to raise a family in strange territory. And yet so, so many of us do it. We move to other cities, other countries, other continents. And we get on with it.

As is often the case during Mum's visits, I found myself talking about the reasons I moved to Canada. And how, when I left, the sadness I felt about leaving my family was counterbalanced with the excitement of my new life in this foreign, exciting place where everyone wore cowboy hats and drove Hummers (what the hell was I thinking?) (also, this is truly not the case, I swear).

After a few years of getting into the swing of living in North America - existing as two young, childless, spontaneous people with plenty of cash and more than enough ways to spend it, we had kids. And everything changed. Suddenly I realized what it really meant to be away from my family.

The trips they made over here, after I had my kids, were fantastic. But when they weren't here, when I was having a bad day following a bad night, when I was at the end of my rope, when I hadn't showered for four days straight, or when I just wanted to see a friendly face, I couldn't call my Mum or Dad or brother on the phone and ask them to pop over for an hour.

So many times I've questioned whether I did the right thing, moving here, away from my family. But, by the time we had our kids, I'd fallen in love with our life here. The house, city, friends, lifestyle, still, to this day, make me grateful to be here. This is home, now. But, without my family, it's still hard.


Nana with her grandsons, 2010...

My Mum and me, sometime around 1983...

Stumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To Reddit Bookmark Twitter

18 comments:

Jules said...

It must be so hard being away from your family. I don't think I could do it. That last picture of you and your Mom is so precious. She is beautiful.

Elaine A. said...

It's hard, I know. I cry a little every time my Mother leaves and she's only a state away. Family is so very important.

I'm glad she was able to come and see you all. Love the photos.

..... Carmen said...

As a friend of mine likes to quote "Friends are the family you choose for yourself". I know we can't replace your Mum, but we are all here for you on those tough days when you need someone to talk to, or someone to visit. I'm glad you had such a great time with your Mum here this past week. I can't wait to see if it has helped Matthew develop an accent ;)

rheanne said...

I can completely identify. I am heading to Canada to see my family this weekend and couldn't be more excited, although I am already sad about that moment at the airport when I have to come back to Bermuda. It is such an empty feeling that brings all those questions about the choices I've made to the forefront. Thank goodness for skype, email and telephones. When my mom lived in Australia away from her family she had to rely on the regular mail. I don't think I could have done that!

Mwa said...

What a heartbreaking thing...

Bear and Bones Mama said...

I understand. My family doesn't live on a separate continent, but they are 1700 miles away. I went home this past weekend for my grandmother's memorial service. Just me, no kids, no husband. I got to visit with my nephews, my dad, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings. I also saw all my girlfriends and we had a blast. I haven't laughed that hard in years it seems. It is so hard being away from family, but I love living in Colorado and raising my boys here. I wish I could find the balance. I know - I just need my own private jet so I can take the boys home whenever I want, maybe once a month or two....yeah. No problem.

gringationcancun said...

When I was in college in Cancun I would be in the States about 3 months a year. Now that I'm working, I hardly get to see them. It's really hard sometimes.

Great pictures, and I'm glad you got to see your mom.

Loukia said...

OH sweetie. You made me all teary with this post. It must be so hard, and I am sorry. I am glad you had a great visit with your mom, and I can just imagine how difficult it was to say good-bye. I can't imagine right now moving away from where I am, because we have our family here, my parents and my husband's parents, and they help us so much. I couldn't do it alone, I don't think. Maybe one day you'll all live in the same city again, but until then, I hope you get lots and lots of visits to eachother! Hugs to you my dear.

Chic Mama said...

That must be so so hard....I just can't imagine it. XX

Angela said...

Your post made me cry. Thank you though... :) I am the same way - living in BC since university, and all my family (parents, sister, counsins, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents...on and on and on) on the other side of our vast country. And sometimes, the more I talk to them, the more I connect with old friends....the worse it gets. There's no way husband would even consider moving. And having a few members of husband's family here only makes it worse for me, since I'm just an outsider and don't belong. I don't have any solutions, only a sympathetic ear. You're not the only one. Hugs!

What helps sometimes, is that I try to remember THIS is my kid's home. THIS is the place they will grow up and remember, THESE streets are their streets, THIS ocean is their lake, THESE mountains are their land. THIS is the place they will long for when they are grown up, and this is the place they will long to return to, once they are adults with children of their own. That helps me, somewhat. Knowing they will feel about THIS place the way I feel about back East.

Christine said...

My husband and I chose to pass up a great opportunity many years ago-before children, becaus I couldn't bear the idea of being so far from my parents. I am most fortunate that they live only 5 minutes from us, and for that I count my blessings every day. Hugs to you!

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

I so 100% truly and completely understand how you feel. I go through all of the same emotions every time I say goodbye to my parents after a visit. Choosing to move to Canada to be with my husband was an easy choice for me to make at the time, but now that we have a daughter (and another child on the way) I realize how much I have given up and how much I have taken from my parents by living so far from what was home.

Metropolitan Mum said...

In 1983, I had the same doll and my mum had the same haircut.
I don't speak to my mother anymore.For me it's much easier to be away than to be close to her without being close.
x D

Metropolitan Mum said...

In 1983, I had the same doll and my mum had the same haircut.
I don't speak to my mother anymore.For me it's much easier to be away than to be close to her without being close.
x D

Metropolitan Mum said...

In 1983, I had the same doll and my mum had the same haircut.
I don't speak to my mother anymore.For me it's much easier to be away than to be close to her without being close.
x D

LisaDay said...

It's so hard to be so far away from your family. You nailed it. It's the little things you miss.

I am happy you had a nice visit.

LisaDay

If I Could Escape . . . said...

Awww, I can only imagine how hard it is to be away from your family. I'm so lucky in that I have most of my immediate family here. I do feel for my hubby though as he misses his parents desperately. Especially now that they are so much older. Now, if I could only persuade my mum to move back over, we'd be back in a heartbeat!

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

I can't imagine living that far from my mom. I feel for you and your kiddies. LOVE the pic of you and your mom.