13000 miles. That’s how far away my lovely mummy is right now, and most of the time. Before we moved to the US we were still over 3000 miles apart. For 7 years we have been thousands of miles apart. That did change our relationship, but in many ways it is stronger than it ever was. When I was growing up she was my best friend. I’ve never told her that before! She still is, she is the person I ask for advice on difficult situations first, because she knows me in a way nobody else does. She is one of the few people I know who understands the stress of relocating, because she did it herself 40 years ago. She did it in a time where there was no skype or facetime, and you couldn’t send a whats app or an email. So when I call her because I am homesick, she understands, and she listens, and she tells me she can’t say much to help, except that it will get easier.
Do I wish she wasn’t so far away? Absolutely. I see friends going for lunch with their mums, or spending the day as grandma and her grand babies and I am jealous of those people. Not having someone to help you when the kids are sick, or when you just need a little rest, or when you want to take a night with your partner to be grown ups isn’t easy. But my mum supports our adventure even though it means she misses out on those things too. It reminds me I was supposed to do this and she always supported and encouraged me to be successful and have fun. I’m sure that’s why she wouldn’t let me quit Latin when I begged her at age 16 – it was a skill I would appreciate one day, she said. Really the skill I learnt was that you don’t give up because something is hard; you give it your best because you made the commitment to it. Latin was really boring though!
One day all our family will be in the same country. We sound exotic when I explain to people that my parents live in Nigeria, but also have a house in Bath, that my brothers live in Pakistan and Nigeria, and that my husband’s parent live in France and the rest of his family are in England. I would like it to be a little less exotic at some point in our life! We get something others don’t get though. We get month long visits from both our parents. I get asked all the time how we cope with having them with us for so long; it’s easy because we have great parents, and when you go up to a year at a time without seeing them, a month with them is a dream! Our boys get to come down in the morning and cuddle in bed or on the sofa with their grandparents. They get days at the beach and still get to take their grandparents home with them. They get a month of stories and playtime and cuddles. Their grandparents get to know them intensely for a long period of time. In so many ways they are the luckiest boys to get these extended periods of time with the people who love them in a way nobody else can.
We are blessed to have such strong women in our lives and in the lives of our children. One thing our long distance relationships with our parents have taught us, is that we are so lucky to have them, and to be loved by them.