Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The tough part about holidays for this mom April 2, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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MOST HOLIDAYS, NO MATTER how hard I try, I find myself envying families who can all be together. I know it’s juvenile thinking and I should be thankful for the times I have my three adult children (that always seems like such an oxymoron) under my roof for a holiday.

But if you’re a mom (or dad), and you’re honest, don’t you miss having every child you’ve birthed or adopted together with you, celebrating? OK, maybe it’s just me. But I miss the daughter who lives four hours away. And I miss the son who lives 1,400 miles away. And, when my eldest daughter and her family are with the other side of the family on the other side of the country, I miss them, too.

I’m getting better at accepting this as the way things are when your kids grow up and leave home. I’m adjusting. Connecting via technology helps. Randy and I have also found other ways to deal with the absence of our once nuclear family. On Thanksgiving, for example, we volunteered to deliver meals in our community. Last Easter we drove 2.5 hours to southwestern Minnesota to visit my mom in a care center. I can choose to be sad. Or I can choose to purposely give joy, thus receiving joy in return.

I’ve learned to delight in the once-a-year-occasion (maybe) that our family gathers in Minnesota. That last happened in August. Seven months ago. Too long. But at least we were together for a few days. Never mind that my son texted recently that he is changing his residency to Massachusetts, tangible evidence that he doesn’t plan to return to Minnesota to live anytime soon.

Then I think of the parents who have lost children and I have no reason, none, to feel sorry for myself.

This is life. I am reminded that, as parents, we are to give our kids roots and wings. Roots and wings. It sounds so poetic, so uplifting. But the reality is that sometimes I wish my kids had missed that flying part. Or at least landed closer to home.

TELL ME: Do you share any of my feelings? How do you cope with missing your kids on holidays? Or are you one of those “lucky” parents who always has your kids around for holidays?


Just for the record, I spent this Easter with my husband, oldest daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. And it was wonderful.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


33 Responses to “The tough part about holidays for this mom”

  1. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    My map of extended family includes two hemispheres. I relate to all you have said. We just continue to reach out to others who need a helping hand.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    We were “childless” this Easter and we did okay because we were able to talk to both of the boys. We started doing family vacations at Christmas in fun places with them as well to help have a destination other than Iowa. Now that we live in a better place climate wise they do come to visit more. It’s part of parenting but it is one of the more difficult parts when we realize that we are no longer the centers of their universes. But they still need us and that makes me grateful.

    • They definitely still need us and us them, even more so as we age.

      It sounds like you and Chris have adjusted and that was a smart move on your part to choose a warm place to gather. This was our coldest Easter here in Minnesota since 1997. I believe the temp Easter morning was 15 degrees.

  3. dalmatianangel Says:

    I also have those same feelings. I miss my children who are busy with their own lives. I don’t understand that their generation does not feel the need to be with their parents for special occasions and holidays.
    It may stem from growing up with 10 siblings, and celebrating every occasion. Often we had extended family celebrating with us. I feel like those days are gone. I’ve accepted it, but I still don’t like it!

    • I’m glad you brought this up, because I think some of my feelings stem from the same upbringing. I have only five siblings, but lots and lots of cousins (40?) and we always got together with extended family to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Now families are so geographically scattered and there are many other activities, etc., to take away that family time. Society has changed and not always in the best of ways.

      Like you, I’ve accepted, but still don’t like.

      That said, Randy and I enjoyed every minute with our eldest daughter and her husband and our sweet granddaughter yesterday. I’m thankful they live only an hour distant.

  4. I have been blessed to always have all of my children and grandchildren together with my husband and me to celebrate holidays and special occasions, but there are some changes brewing with regard to careers in the near future. I am trying to find ways to prepare my heart for the day when that may no longer be the case.

  5. Pancho Says:

    Boy, do I relate. My family has always been far flung, and my genealogy work reveals that this has been the case for many generations. Something is gained by all that moving around, but something is definitely lost too.

  6. indishe Says:

    It’s the story of every family.
    Kids fly away to explore new horizons and the parents wait for and treasure the time spent with them.
    You are doing the right thing by keeping yourself occupied.
    Otherwise it’s difficult.
    I have seen old parents around waiting for their children to call. It is sad.

    • I don’t want to be one of those old parents waiting around.

      Not every family sees their children move far away. I listened to a mom tell me yesterday how happy she was to have all of her kids together for the holiday and at least once a month to celebrate birthdays. They all live in the same community. She sees them each probably once a week if not more. As she went on and on, I thought, she has no idea how her words are hurting me. And did she ask about my family? No. I think we all need to be more cognizant of parents whose children are absent whether by geography, death, circumstances, whatever, and to extend compassion to them. Or at least acknowledge that they are missing their children.

  7. I do understand your feelings. It’s hard when our children are living their own independent lives–so proud, but missing them is very acute at times. Holidays are celebrated differently now, but it sure makes me cherish the time we do have together.

  8. Roots and wings my friend 🙂 We are a bunch of modern day gypsies type of clan with family scattered throughout the U.S. The one thing I have learned over the past 10 years is to CELEBRATE and SPEND QUALITY TIME TOGETHER when all are together – so important and matters oh so much too! CravesFather lost his brother on Saturday after quite the battle with heart disease – this makes three brothers that have passed – 2016, 2017 and now in 2018. It really makes you reflect on that time is really precious and a true gift to live it fully each and every day. Take Care My Friend ((((((lovesandhugs)))))

  9. Dawn Says:

    I’m with you Audrey. It’s hard. However, you’re right in that we can choose to dwell on it or be useful to others. In my case, the children and grandchildren were not there, but I was there for my parents who lost a child (their only son) 39 years ago. My niece was there also with her new baby, so we got our baby fix. It’s hard, but with the Lord, it’s easier. Happy Easter Audrey!

    • Oh, Dawn, what a comfort you are to your parents. And what joy you find in that sweet new baby. God has a way of helping us through our struggles by giving us reasons to celebrate and to be thankful. I totally agree with you that “with the Lord, it’s easier.”

  10. Jackie Says:

    We are one of the lucky ones, but I will always profess that I do NOT take it for granted and feel blessed to have our children close. Our middle is only 1.5 hours away, the other two kids are here in Rochester. I cant imagine only having them together once a year, my heart goes out to you Audrey, this must be so hard!

  11. I hear you. The older I get, the more important family has become to me.

  12. Littlesundog Says:

    A person has to take joy in what is right in front of us. I know it’s got to be difficult for you when your kids are so far away. I still get sad during the holidays because it is a reminder I don’t have children to share the days with. Both Forrest and I have family strewn across the country and we’re lucky to see a few of them once a year. So Forrest and I make the best of holidays by celebrating what we have right here. I know you and Randy do that too. It helps.

  13. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I seriously can’t imagine but it’s not far off. My oldest turned 14 this week and starts high school next year. I’m still trying to figure out how that happened

  14. Bella Says:

    Yes these times can be difficult being separated but you are all joined in spirit and wonderful you and Randy can connect with your community and finds ways to be of service to others who may be experiencing loneliness.

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