It’s interesting, over the years we’ve been here we’ve occasionally heard of folks who went back — sometimes after only a few months of being here! — because of “family issues.” We never thought that would apply to us.
We knew we’d solved one major “family issue” by bringing my parents with us. My husband’s parents were already gone. We’d taken care of David’s mom for several years before her passing some years before our move, and my own parents had moved up to Maine to live with us a couple of years before. In fact, our moving to CR had been for their benefit as much as anything. They were both in their 80s, with health issues (more on those in future posts) and the idea of year-round mild temps, inexpensive care, great medical (yup, more on that in future posts), and new adventures made bringing them seem like reason enough to come.
Our children (middish 20s and early 30s at the time) had already moved cross-country before our move to Costa Rica came up. Our son Collin was living in L.A. — as befitting n up-and-coming filmmaker — and our daughter Jen had moved to Sacramento the previous year in search of new adventures.
Ironically, since you spend almost the entirety of your children’s life raising them to become strong and independent adults, it seems only natural that they’ll move away from home in pursuit of that strength and independence. So while we always missed our children whenever they weren’t home, we took it in stride as “the way it was supposed to be.”
And so life went… until the grandbaby appeared.
Jen and Larry had gotten married as they hovered around their 30th birthdays, and we knew from little things they’d said that a family wouldn’t be too terribly far behind. But we’d never pried, never prodded, and certainly never pushed for grandchildren.
But the following summer Jen had told David — as a “birthday present” of sorts — that they were hoping to start a family and luckily for them it wasn’t too long after that when they announced that they were, indeed, expecting. Mid April was the due date, and other than enjoying watching Jen’s growing belly, we hadn’t given the arrival of a grandbaby all that much thought.
Oh, we were happy about it, of course. But in retrospect, it was a sort of “abstract” kind of happiness. We were simply unprepared for the heartswell that would come when Avila was actually BORN and we spent time with her.
It’s clear that being part of our grandchild’s life is the first big event to kick-start this idea of going back, but what’s even more interesting is that we’ve really been re-thinking not just wanting to be part of our granddaughter’s life, but to be more a part of our own children’s lives again.
Like all parents, we’ve had our ups and downs with our kids, perhaps not surprising since they are — in fact — the product of a “blended family.” (Are un-blended families actually any less prone to ups and downs, one wonders?) There’ve been good times, bad times, easy times, and hard times, but at all times we’ve loved our kids unconditionally and considered ourselves to be wholeheartedly involved in their lives.
Except, that in our view of how that worked as I touched on earlier, we’d bought into the idea that being good parents meant letting them go, on to their own lives, thousands of miles away. That was, after all, the sign of their having grown into good, solid young adults, right?
We’d rationalized — truthfully enough — that they’d rather fly to Costa Rica to visit us than Maine, and indeed we’ve probably seen them as often in the years we’ve been here as we would have if we’d stayed in Maine. But the entire idea of “going back” has raised the idea of how nice it might be not just to see the kids once a year.
While that idea — that we didn’t want to be “once a year” grandparents to Avila — was the impetus of the idea to return, the truth is that it’s made us think about how we’d really prefer not to be “once a year” parents to our own children. By living in Salt Lake we’ll be right there with Jen and Larry, and within a day’s drive of Collin. We like that.
Grown or not, they’ll always be “our kids” and we’re both looking forward to being back in a place where we can more easily be a regular part of their lives.