Living far away from my family when I was in college — and even after I got married — didn't make me nearly as nostalgic as being away from them when I became a mother. In school, a part of me knew that I could pack a bag and run home if I was too homesick. After my son was born, I realized that I couldn't be as spontaneous with my decisions as before, and that drove me a little crazy.
I was lucky enough to have my parents with me when my son was born. They helped us through the first month of being parents. The day they left, I couldn't stop feeling hopeless while I waved goodbye to them in the airport. I was jolted back into reality; a reality I didn't know and had no idea how to live. To be honest with you, I enjoyed those first days back at home, just the three of us. No guest or family telling you what to do. But soon after, I started missing them a lot. I guess all that being away from family when you become a parent fills you with a kind of rollercoaster of feelings. You feel sad, then happy, then relief, then desperate… you're a mess.
I started hanging out with other moms that have no family nearby and discovered that I wasn't the only one to feel that way.
There are some things all moms that live far away from their families do and feel, and that we all totally understand:
1. You start looking desperately for a group of friends with kids. When you discover that you can't lean on your family for support or company, you start looking for an emotional relationship with people that you know that have no family nearby. Those friends are there for you during those rough times when you normally would call your mom or your sister, and help you through those moments when you just don't know what to do.
2. You have a picture of your family hanging in every corner of your home. This is something you might not do if you get to see your family very often. But if you are far away from them, you want your kids to know their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins' faces, so you print lots of family pictures and leave them everywhere you can.
3. Your kids know exactly how FaceTime works. You discover that your kids are too involved with technology, probably more than you would like. Although you feel guilty, you can't take devices away from them because how else are they going to talk to the family? So they know exactly what Whatsapp is and they start smiling when they hear the tablet ringing because they know it's grandma, grandpa or one of the uncles and aunts that spoils them and promises them candy, toys and all things fun.
4. You're jealous of moms who have their families nearby and don't need to pay for a babysitter. Of course you would rather have someone that loves your kid, like a family member, take care of them. Instead, you need to go through a stressful process of finding a babysitter. Not to mention the expense and the guilt of leaving your kid with an stranger.
5. Someone in your family has a bunch of pictures of your kids rashes and pimples. Even when you know that you need to go to the doctor if you're worried about your kids being sick, you can't stop asking grandma, mom, dad or some other family member about what they think about that weird thing you just discovered on your kid's skin. Even when family is away from home, you feel that it's important to ask for advice, especially with the weird things you've never experienced before.
Someone in your family has a bunch of pictures of your kids rashes and pimples because even when you know that you need to go to the doctor if you're worried about your kids being sick, you can't stop asking grandma, mom, dad or some other family member about what they think about that weird thing you just discovered on your kid's skin.
6. You call your grandma or mom at least twice a week to ask them for recipes. As a mom, you want your kids to eat delicious food, just like you did when you were a kid. Everybody knows grandma and mom are the best cooks!
7. Vacations are for family. While other moms might consider a vacation the perfect time to get away from family, you know that vacation time is a great opportunity to visit the family members you miss most.
8. Sometimes you just start crying in the supermarket line. Sometimes you get extremely melancholic and miss your family a lot. When that happens, you can't stop crying — even if you're in public places. You just need to get that feeling out. It's good for you and totally understandable.
9. You can decide how to raise your kids without feeling guilty. When you have no one from your family judging you and telling how to raise your kids, you can just choose how to do it.
10. You start appreciating all those things about your family that you used to hate. Right when you find yourself alone and exhausted raising your kids, you start appreciating the simple things you used to dislike about your family. Like those Sundays mornings when your mom used to make breakfast for everyone, or the "annoying" Saturday movie nights with dad. You start understanding your parents more and appreciating everything they did for you.
11. You don't get sad when they don't invite you to a family event. Traveling with kids is not easy. So you miss a lot of important family events every year. You family knows that you probably won't make it so they don't even invite you. You don't feel angry or sad because you are doing exactly the same with your family.
12. You are an expert in family selfies. Your family asks you for pictures with the kids all the time so you became an expert in taking family pictures with just one hand.