To move or not to move (near the grandkids)?

Should grandparents give up the life they have to be closer to their grandkids? Our columnist, Lisa Carpenter, weighs the pros and cons.

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I’m a long-distance grandma. On occasion, I complain about the many miles between my two grandsons and me. After a recent long-winded lamentation about what I miss out on by them living so far away, I was asked, by a non-grandma, Why don’t you just move closer to them?

My short answer: Sheesh! I have a life!

My long answer: I have a life. A life filled with interests, activities, and relationships that make me who I am, all in addition to my grandma role. I would love living near my grandchildren, but if that means giving up all I have outside of being a grandma, I respectfully decline.

Many grandparents do move simply to be near their grandchildren. I applaud them for making a choice that works for them. That’s the key, though: making choices that work for us individually. Moving away from the place I’ve called home for more than 30 years simply doesn’t work for me.

For starters, relocating to be near grandchildren is easier for retired grandparents. Like many grandmothers, I still work, still have a job, still have a career. My husband, my partner in grandparenting, also still works. Though I’m a freelancer and can take my work with me wherever I go, my husband’s job serves as the main anchor to our location.

Yet his job isn’t the only reason for not moving. That would be my oldest and youngest daughters, siblings on either side of the mother to my grandsons. Those two daughters live less than an hour’s drive from me. While I love my grandsons to pieces, I love my daughters to pieces, too. And I love them living near me, near where our family has always lived. Plus, some day in the not-too-distant future, one or both of those daughters will have children of their own. Meaning more grandchildren I’ll love to pieces—local grandchildren, no relocation required.

There’s ultimately more to my reasoning, and the word “home” serves as bottom line. I love my physical house as well as the not-so physical things I’ve long cultivated—friendships, activities, associations—that make my chosen place feel like home. Sure, there’s much to be said about making new friends, finding new interests, but I’m perfectly capable of doing both without relocating to the place my grandsons call home.

And that’s another consideration—the place my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons call home. Their home is in the desert. My home is in the mountains. Like City Mouse and Country Mouse, we each have spots we’re comfortable in, spots we prefer to be. Theirs is currently the desert; mine will always be the mountains.

My grandsons are the icing on my cake, the cheese on my pizza, the clapper that rings my bell. Yet no matter how truly, madly, deeply I love them, they are only part of what makes my life full and fulfilling. All the other parts are what I will delightfully share with my grandsons each time we’re together, each time we confirm that distance is certainly no indicator of a grandmother’s love for her grandchildren.

Lisa Carpenter is a mother, grandmother and writer of the blog Grandma’s Briefs. You can read more of her musings here.

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