When Your Family is MIA

When you find out that you are expecting, your mind races. Will it be a boy or girl? What should we name it? What about the nursery? Will I be a good mom? 

Once you figure out these things, you start wondering about the BIG things: I hope we can provide them with everything they need. I hope my children have some cousins to play with. I hope my children have grandparents who love them. I hope my children have aunts and uncles that participate in their life. 

When I gave birth to my first child, we lived several hours away from both sides of our families. Anticipation was high, as our child was the first grandchild on both sides. I hoped that my rather distant family would be active participants in my child(ren)’s lives. I had my doubts and hesitations, and reasonably so. We were not close. We rarely spoke. We did not text. We were not even friends on social media.

I did not have high expectations. 

My parents were not present for the birth of my child. One, out of my handful of siblings, showed up. My parents did not visit in the following weeks. My parents and other siblings did not meet my child until I made a trip to them three months later. {Traveling with a small child is always a treat, BTW.} They saw my child again three months later for a very short amount time after I made another trip. They did not show up to my child’s first birthday party. My parents also missed the second birthday party.

My child did not know my family.

But you know who was really missing out? Not my two-year-old. He had plenty of love and was surrounded by other family and friends. My child has never cried tears because Grandma or Uncle Mack did not attend their birthday, visit, or call. 

I will also let you in on a secret: the person who has endured the most emotional distress is me.

I am the one who sees what is happening. I am the one who hears all the excuses. I am the one who gets the repetitive, “When are you going to bring my grandchild to see me?” and “I’d love to see my nephew sometime.” I am sad that my child is missing out on such important relationships. I think about the relationships I had with grandparents and aunts and uncles as I grew up. I think of fun trips, sleepovers, and eating ice cream way past my bedtime. I think of laughing and snuggling. I have complained, cried, and stressed. 

Please stop. Please.

{Brace yourself for this bomb.}

My kid isn’t missing out. 

You are.

Every time you make an excuse for why you cannot attend a birthday party, a family holiday, or just can’t fathom spending a vacation day to visit, this is what you are missing:

You are missing out on seeing the sweetest smile and the brightest eyes light up when you come through our front door.

You are missing out on the loudest laugh after a tickle fight.

You are missing out on playing hours of hide and seek.

You are missing out on snuggling a sweet child as they fall fast asleep.

You are missing out on hearing someone yell “Grandma/Grandpa/Aunt/Uncle ______!” with pure joy in their voice.

You are missing out on some pretty incredible love.

YOU are missing out.

I am not missing out. I may be sad for you that you are missing out, but I am not. 

My child isn’t missing out. My child is loved and gives love to those that he knows. 

The distance between us isn’t convenient. The date of a birthday party may not be convenient. The fact that we do not make the several hour drive more often is not convenient for you. Sometimes life isn’t convenient, but I can guarantee you that the relationship is worth the hassle.

In life, we often find ourselves having to decide if something is worth it. Worth our time, worth our effort, worth the hassle. If we don’t find it worth it, we find an excuse. If we value it, we find every possible way to make it happen. I am guilty of finding excuses, but I know that I am missing out, whether it’s dinner out with a friend or a family get together. You definitely won’t hear me trying to make you feel guilty because I decided not to attend or visit.

I love you, but I’m done with your excuses.

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