Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When your kids live far away September 13, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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WHENEVER I HEAR OTHERS talk about family vacations with all of their grown children, I feel a tinge of jealousy. Likewise I struggle at family reunions or holiday get-togethers, when often only my adult kids are missing. I experience sadness at their absence while everyone else is surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

I’m happy for families that have these cherished times together. But I don’t have that. Two of my three adult children live outside of Minnesota—one in the Boston area and the other several hundred miles away in eastern Wisconsin. More than a year has passed since we were all together. Maybe we’ll be together at Christmas. I’m hopeful, but not too hopeful. I’ve learned to hold my hope in check to tamp the disappointment.

Such is life with kids branching across the country. I want my son and second daughter to live where they choose, which, right now, is not Minnesota and likely never will be. I am thankful that my eldest daughter and family remain in Minnesota, just an hour away.

Technology keeps us connected. It helps. But how I’d love, too, to have a week with them. Solo or together. Or a few days. Yeah, I’d be happy with that.


TELL ME: If you have adult children and grandchildren living a long distance away, how do you stay connected in creative ways? And how do you handle family gatherings when no one seems to notice that your adult kids are absent?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “When your kids live far away”

  1. Claudette Says:

    Technology is nice but not the same, is it. When my mom decided to move out of country when I was 10 and the others younger, and her sister did the same with her 3 kids, it was tough for my grandma, especially after my grandpa died. We wrote letters, a lot of letters, but it was hard.

    My two siblings live on the west coast now, and I’m in Toronto. My parents 40 min away from me, so for my kids, having access to grandparents has been extra special. The other two grandchildren on the west coast don’t have that same connection, despite lots of effort to maintain contact.

    I hope you get your holiday wish!

    • Before this posted, my son decided to fly back to Minnesota with his girlfriend for a long weekend in November. I am so excited. Now if his sister from Wisconsin can be here, we can all be together. That would make this mama’s heart happy.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    We started a tradition a long time ago to travel someplace at Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas and rent a place so that everyone could come. It has been such a great thing and even if not everyone is there for the entire time we usually have several days when we can be together. Now that one is married and one is engaged it is a bit harder to juggle the other side of their families but we make it work. The best thing this year is that Chris booked a place for my birthday and they all made it. That was my perfect birthday present. Since out home here is not their childhood home they don’t feel any pull to come here but they still do occasionally because it is such a lovely area. It helps. As they get older we have to make those get togethers happen. I do miss them terribly and I like you will most likely never live close to them and understand that as that is what my life was like with my own family. While I do miss seeing them as often as I would like to we do try to do weekly FaceTime calls and text and call often. Your situation is so like many others and is a sign that you raised children and gave them wings . Love you!

    • I knew you would “get it,” my friend. I know, too, that you miss your boys as much as I miss my three. But, yes, we must cherish the times we can be together. And I do.

      Caleb decided to fly back to Minnesota for a long weekend in November, with his girlfriend. I am excited to meet her and especially excited to see Caleb after nearly a year. Hopefully both of his sisters can also make it to see their brother.

  3. We struggled with this, too (we have one in Missouri, one in Georgia, and one in Florida) and it was part of our decision to live and travel in the RV full-time so we can visit them more often. Since that isn’t a desire for most folks, keeping in touch nowadays is a lot of Facetime and cards via snail mail. We recently had a family graduation celebration where we Facetimed the girls and sent the phone around the room so everyone could say hi. When an uncle passed away, we were able to livestream the service so the kids could be a part. It still doesn’t keep us from missing them at gatherings, but it does help and it reminds them they are connected to a whole gaggle of people who is their tribe. Glad your wrist is doing better. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    A not unusual conversation:

    “So what brought you here?”
    “We moved to be closer to our children.”
    “That is wonderful.”
    “But then they moved.”

  5. My kids live far away too. I understand your feelings. Even when I visit them they always seem to busy to just spend time with me. I always dreamed of the happy all together family vacation (which is very much a tradition here in The Netherlands) but also know it may never happen. We must cherish those moments we do get with them. Be happy with the three word emails as answers to our long detailed hopeful email. Hard, this new generation being so busy and self consumed. I feel your pain, as it is also mine.

  6. sheketechad Says:

    I’m the kid that lives far away 🙂 ALL of my family, my children, grandchildren and my parents, live in another state within hours of each other. I’ve been gone from the family stomping grounds since 2004, with a window of return from 2012-2017. We don’t have big get-togethers – that’s always been the purview of my ex-in-laws side. My family is small, so I usually make one trip down for Thanksgiving if it’s in the budget, and once in the summer. Rarely can all of my kids and grand kids make it to my family assemblage, as they have in-laws too, who don’t care if I am in town only twice a year. It is irritating to me, since I’m asking for one day out of the year usually.

    We all keep in touch via phone, email and text – more than once a week. As my mother ages, there is no one to take the place of the big family house that everyone can come to, something everyone sometimes nags me about – not taking on the matriarchal mantle.

    I miss my children, and knowing my grandchildren more fully. But I moved away because I took on the oldest grandchild to raise and it was terribly painful for him to see the rest of his family (four other kids) remain and he not be kept. Would I move back? Maybe. I don’t like the state, never have. I wish I could bring my family TO me, lol. That’s life I guess.

  7. I have been living apart from family for 10+ years and it has its good moments, challenges and a few guilt/jealousy trips involved. So far have made it work in coming together at least once a year to a year and a half. Yes I would like it to be more at times. I am glad my parents have embraced the new place I call home and come down in their RV for a few months in the Winter months – helps they are retired and their house (aka Rosie) is on wheels and mobile. I still worry about them driving cross the country though in a 38 footer with an SUV on behind. Some how you make it work and when you do get together you make time to spend quality time together 🙂 Take Care. Happy Day – Enjoy!

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I can’t imagine not having my kids home at night. I’m sure this is one of the most difficult things about having children grow up

  9. valeriebollinger Says:

    Yep, it’s hard and we’ve talked about this. There are no easy answers but it’s fun to read the responses.
    Our son surprised us and is coming for a quick visit this weekend. We’re excited. We haven’t seen him in a year.
    We’re still waiting for visa approval for his wife.

  10. Littlesundog Says:

    Our expectations often keep us disappointed. The beautiful thing is, you are respectful of your children’s choices and by giving them wings to fly, they can flourish. When you write about them, and I see photographs, they look happy and everyone seems to appreciate coming home and sharing the family bond. Izzy is a big part of keeping connected now. Your children are off on their own adventures, and life for them is different than it was when we set out on our own. We see and understand how things change, but that doesn’t help the yearning we feel to stay physically connected. It must be very strong for a mother. I’m watching my sister Jules having sadness and worry with her firstborn going off to college this year.

    I am the one child of my siblings who left the state. It was necessary for me. Most of the time I go back because I feel an obligation. I usually come back wounded and and upset wondering why on earth I put myself through that… again. But there are reasons to continue. I have nieces and nephews who need love, support and encouragement. And there are family members who mean the world to me. I always go, because there are reasons, and I have to remember, it isn’t always about ME.

    • “It isn’t always about me…”

      I love that about you, Lori, that you always think of others. And I appreciate your thoughtful comments here. You always give me a reason to pause, read, and then reread your words. Your depth of compassion and love threads through your comments. I am sorry you face challenges upon returning home. But that you continue to do so for all the right reasons shows tremendous strength and a recognition that you need to maintain some of those family connections.

  11. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Yep, I’m one of those that gets to have the gatherings, I feel blessed and often sorry for my friends that dont. So I am sorry for your heart as I cant imagine having my kids live so far away. One thing I have always said is that I will never ever take for granted the close proximity we have. I”m thankful for the technology that is next best, but it’s not even a close 2nd is it? In your arms is number #1. Thinking of you friend, you must miss them so!

  12. Barbara Frame Durham Says:

    We bought a home in Mexico to escape Minnesota’s winters, and keep a summer home here where most of the kids and grandkids are. We rarely see them when we ARE here, they’re all so busy. My husband likes to say “They treat us exactly how we treated our own parents and grandparents”. After 12 years of this annual split, a couple of the kids have begun to visit us in Mexico where last year we built a guesthouse to accommodate them), and I think in time we’ll see more of them. Meanwhile, yes, technology is invaluable for keeping up. Dunno how many more years we’ll be able to make that long trip every year, and may have to choose one or the other. Winter snow and ice (near family) versus summer heat and humidity?

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