Thursday, June 23, 2011

Family far, far away

One thing I haven't talked much about is the family situation for our baby. My wife and I both are far away from our immediate family, with parents and siblings all in California. We've been progressively moving eastward, first for grad school in Missouri and then here in Pennsylvania for my work at Lehigh.

It's weird to think that the kid won't see the grandparents or the aunts and uncles so much. Both of my siblings (they have four kids each) get somewhat regular time for the kids to visit with grandma and grandpa. For us it's going to be occasional at best, and then a whole lot of Skype.

Webcams are better than no contact at all, of course. Technology has given us the ability to do more than we can with a phone, and that 2-D form can be supplemented by visits. It's not ideal, but it's what we have. My mom used to worry that she was "the grandma who lived in the phone" with her oldest niece. I suppose it's time to have grandma in an iPad.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this situation, mostly the latter. The situation, I hope, will mean that my wife and I will have together and focus as a team on handling issues big and small; we can't just drop the baby off at grandma's or have instant help when there are issues. We'll have to figure it out, and that can bring us closer together. But I do worry about extended family being an abstract thing more than something they experience with physical presence and touch.

Given all that, I feel lucky. The people in my department have helped me think through the right questions of what we are going to need in the early going, and the result has been to work on ways to ease the pressure (after all, the baby is due in the first week of the fall semester). We are still building a support network of friends after two years, but I feel so glad to have already made some great friends who have been there for us. We do have people we know care about us and our well being. It's not the same as family, of course, but I feel like our good friends here feel like another layer of family (which hopefully will include the occasional kick in the pants when I need it).

Being far away from family isn't ideal, but it's not like this situation is a shock. We knew this was a possibility when I signed on with Lehigh two years ago, and we made the decision anyway because being here in the Lehigh Valley offered us the best chance for building a life going forward. How we go about things now will take some trial and error, but we can figure out how we make it work from here.

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Post #8 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. I grew up far away from family. We saw them once a year or once every few years. It is odd at times, but just the word family carries weight. It forges a connection simply because you're related. The relationships are sometimes stronger because you're forced to become more intentional. My brother was great at keeping lots of pictures of me around so the boys would always know who I was. I called all the time, and sent lots of packages. While it doesn't replace Sunday dinner, its still doable. And I am always available to be Aunt Marti :)

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