Ten years ago when I told my parents that my husband and I would be moving 400 miles away, my mother’s first response was, “I won’t be there to help when you have kids.” At the time, my thoughts were not on kids, but on starting my life with my new husband in a new state. I assured her that my sister and I were raised without our grandparents down the street and we turned out just fine. However, she let me know how difficult it had been not having her mom close and she didn’t want me to go through that. Of course, my 22-year-old, college graduate self ignored her concerns and was ready to face the world as an independent married adult.
Two years later, I am standing at my front door sobbing while my parents leave in their car to go back to Louisiana. I stare down at my week-old son and realize that I’m screwed. “Can my husband and I really do this by ourselves?” was a thought that passed through my head the rest of that day. And guess what? We could and we did! We did it so well that we had two more kids!
Raising kids without family around is not an easy task and there were so many times, and still is, when we wished we had someone to lean on and call. We lived in Memphis, TN, for 10 years and were lucky enough to have great friends who could babysit and watch the boys when we absolutely needed a helping hand.
However, there was a time where I needed my parents or my in-laws right then and there and I didn’t have them; I had to wait six hours for them to rush to Memphis because my youngest was in the hospital and unresponsive. My husband was away on military orders and I sat in the ER with my baby crying… alone. Friends of ours stayed with my other two and I was so grateful for that. The hospital’s social worker sat with me while I waited for someone to show up. A friend of mine did come and wait with me until my dad and mother in law got to the hospital.
When I think about those moments I yearn for my parents and my in-laws, the built in help and easy access to support. However, I really think that not having help has helped strengthen my relationship with my husband, friends, and my kids. My husband and I have said on many occasions that we really just have each other. We lean on each other and our communication has to be on point! Depending on each other to get our kids to school, practices, games, school events, etc. We also depend on each other to watch the kids when we need a time out; a break from everything.
When I want to spend time with my friends or he wants to spend time with his friends, we have to coordinate plans with each other and sometimes we aren’t able to have grown up time and that sometimes can be hard. We don’t have that backup plan of calling grandparents to step in and babysit. Sometimes just so we can see our friends, we have them come over with their kids and cook out!
In 2014 my husband and I made the decision to move to Texas. When we first started talking about making the move I was excited because I thought we would be closer to our parents. Ummm, yeah, no. We are further, about 100 miles further. It adds an extra hour and half to the drive. My parents have decided to fly every time they come! Being new to the area has made it harder too because we we don’t have all of our friends anymore. Luckily we are building new friendships and ourselves, and our boys, are starting to feel at home in Austin.
Looking back my husband and I both acknowledge that having family closer would have been really nice, but we both think we have done a pretty good job, so far, doing it all on our own — without a village.