Not traveling far for holidays is nice. The rest, though ...
I grew up in the New York metro area, and despite going to college in another city, I always knew I'd return to New York to work as a writer/editor and raise my family. After all, both my and my husband's parents still live here and residing near family is the key to making working motherhood easier, right? Sometimes. Other times? Our families might as well be in another country. And other times, still, it’s actually tougher to live close to them. Here are seven things I didn’t expect from living near our parents.
1. They declined to be our child's daytime caregivers. Despite both sets of parents being available full-time when our firstborn hit the scene, no one was willing to commit to watching her while my hubby and I worked. Doctor's visits, traffic and babies being demanding on 60-somethings’ bodies (all justifiable reasons) had us enrolling our daughter in daycare.
2. They can't always provide backup care on short notice. On days our daughter got sick and couldn't go to daycare, or daycare would close because of bad weather, I wrongly assumed her grandparents would be the de facto sitters. Their own ailments and engagements (turns out it's almost impossible to reschedule social security office appointments) kept them from coming to our rescue on most occasions. To be sure, we recognize how lucky we are that they can come through for us ever!
3. Our weekends are rarely for just the three of us. The proximity means we're constantly spending our precious days off with our parents. We love them and want to see them! But we’re a tad jealous of the couples who don’t have to attend every. Little. Thing. “Your Aunt Debbie is switching to a part-time job! Let’s go out to dinner.” “Your fifth cousin is having a half-birthday party. You’ll be there, right?” (Don't worry; we say no when we really need at-home time.)
4. We go to see them more often than they come to see us. Bringing a baby or toddler anywhere is challenging. There's just so much to prepare and pack, even for short excursions. So I thought that meant that our parents would be the ones coming to us most of the time. Not so. Of course, they visit us sometimes, but they still seem to prefer when we bring the party to them.
5. And yet they imply we don’t visit them enough. Even though we’ll head to their neck of the woods at least twice a month—sometimes more—there are guilt trips over our number of physical trips. Highways run in both directions, people!
6. They still want to Skype. Getting together in person a few times a month doesn't cut it. Grandparents want to video-chat with their grandkids, even when said grandkids can't say much. The requests roll in without fail at dinnertime, bathtime and bedtime (because we’re with them on the weekends, and we’re at work the rest of the time!), and the resulting “conversation” is us trying to convince our daughter to do anything more than stare blankly at the screen or demand we flip back to Shimmer and Shine.
7. They can more easily criticize your parenting choices. Far-flung family might never realize you co-sleep or keep your 2-year-old rear-facing in the car. Parents you can drive to—and can drive to you—know all. And have what to say about it. It doesn't matter how many studies you show them to back up your moves. They don't think a newbie millennial mom could possibly know better than they do.
But I appreciate that our daughter is beyond blessed to get snuggles with all four grandparents as often as she does—and we’re fortunate to have them as such important fixtures in our lives.
This article originally appeared on Working Mother.