22 years. That’s how many years have passed since I’ve lived with (or in the same city as) my parents. Well, technically 18 years if you count the time spent at home on summer break when I was in college.
Either way you spin it, it’s been a long time.
Or I guess I should say it had been a long time. The number of years we have been apart came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago when they pulled into my sister’s neighborhood – permanently.
Yep. My mom and stepdad are no longer Hoosiers, but are now Tennesseans or “Volunteers” or “Big Benders” – take your pick.
And I’m not going to lie, the week before their arrival, I was feeling a wee bit anxious. It’s not because we don’t get along – because we do. It’s not that I’m not excited for my family to be here – because I am.
But 22 years is a long time.
Last year, my sister and her family moved here from the Chicago area and my family and I moved from an Indianapolis suburb. It had been just as many years since I had lived by her and honestly, I was nervous about that, too. And it’s been amazing.
I have no reason to believe this will be any different, but the anxiety still remains.
I think I have become comfortable with the distance because I know how that works. They come and stay with us for awhile and we come to stay with them. It’s a concentrated period of awesomeness and when it’s over, we go our separate ways to resume life as we know it.
Now, we go our separate ways to our own houses in the same small town. Now, we can run into each other at the grocery, or pass each other on the street. The possibility to see each other regularly now exists.
This definitely has it’s perks. They watched the kids for us last Saturday so we could go out with our neighbors, and this weekend they are watching the kids so we can go out for our anniversary. They stay at the house and we can stay out as late as we want. The best part? (Other than the kids bonding with their grandparents, of course.) It’s free!
On top of the free babysitting, they also have been able to attend the kids sporting events. And there is nothing quite like an enthusiastic grandma to get the crowd going. It’s been great.
And this makes me happy for the kids, and for my parents. As a child, I could walk to all three of my mom’s siblings houses and her parent’s house. My grandparents lived across the pond and my aunt and uncle lived next door to them. A few doors down from us resided my other aunt and uncle and one neighborhood over from ours was my other aunt and uncle. And lets not forget the cousins who lived in those houses – lots and lots of cousins. It was a childhood dream come true. I always had people to play with and to top it off, my grandma and grandpa always had my favorite snacks on hand – chocolate chip cookies from Kroger, dill pickle spears and A&W rootbeer. And let’s not forget about the pool table and pinball machines in the basement.
As I said before, a childhood dream come true.
So why the anxiety? Why wouldn’t I want to replicate something so amazing for my own children?
Honestly, it’s because I’m selfish. There, I said it. Or maybe I’ve seen one too many episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond?
That selfish part of me is worried they will want to hang out a lot. Or even worse, all of the time. And what if they just pop over? I’m not that kind of gal. I’m more of the call or text in advance before you show up at the front door kind of gal. But these are my parents. My mom gave birth to me. Do I really have the right to say when she can or cannot come over? Doesn’t going through the pains of labor and pushing a human out of your lady parts mean you have earned the right to show up unannounced whenever you please?
Nope. Sure doesn’t.
And my mom and stepdad know that. I’m sure they don’t want to hang out with us all of the time any more than we want to hang out with them all of the time. In fact, they may want to hang out with us all of the time even less than we do. Because they are in their glory years and we are in the very loud stage of life. And that isn’t always compatible. It’s hard to take a nap with kids crawling on your lap and yelling in your ear.
So, do I need to be worried? Probably not.
Should I be excited? Absolutely.
Will we have to talk boundaries and expectations at one point or another? I would imagine.
Especially if I keep asking them to babysit at the rate I have been. But one thing’s for certain – until that conversation happens, I’m going to keep asking.
Now that I’m done writing this, I realize I’m not the one who should be nervous. But maybe they should be?