Friday Flip Off 4/8: Family, Guests and Deadlines

My mom came to visit for spring break. We had no real plans, except to just “hang out” everyday. We whittled away the days with conversation, pedicures, shopping, playing games with the kids, wine and good food. Then we’d crawl into bed at 11pm to channel surf until midnight, then do it all over again at 8am the next morning. It was like a vacation – only I wasn’t on vacation.

In my head I still worried about laundry, meal plans, errands and deadlines. I have a 5pm article deadline today that is struggling to come to fruition. My posts this week have been few and far between. There is a basket of items in my closet waiting to be sorted for either the Salvation Army or the basement, and my craft room looks like a construction zone.

I had a hard time ignoring my life, in order to enjoy life.

Me and my mom at my little brother's rehearsal dinner

Living so far from family changes your relationship. I knew that moving to Michigan would require a lot of relational sacrifices, but I wasn’t prepared fully for the feeling of daily loss. Our parents stay for an extended period of time instead of being able to enjoy weekly Sunday brunch, Friday night pizza and game nights, or send the kids over for a sleepover. I am grateful that we are able to see them as much as we do, although four times a year is still not enough. But I struggle with how to define our time together – there feels like a fine line between family and guest. I want the house to be immaculate. I want the meals to be superb. I want the activities to be memory makers. But if they lived in town, I know there would be times someone would drop by just to say hi and see our house very lived in: laundry piles waiting to go in the washer, breakfast dishes still in the sink, beds unmade. There would be nights that we would pop open a box of Mac & Cheese while they babysit because I was in too much of a hurry to make a meal from scratch. Occasionally someone would show up to help clean, sort boxes or take a trip to Salvation Army because they remembered what it was like to be a young busy mom. Or DW would have his dad around to help cross off more items from his “honey-do” list. There would be afternoons that our special lunch together is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I hadn’t made it to the grocery store yet. And it would be okay to say, “Can we get together later?” because later would be tomorrow, and not a few months from now.

Tears trickled down my cheeks as I tightly hugged my mom goodbye at the airport. The days flew by too quickly. I miss her. I miss what I don’t have and I miss what I do have…if that makes any sense. I feel like I let my personal daily agenda and uptight personality get in the way of enjoying her when she visits. I worry too much about things that are always going to need my attention, things that undoubtedly could wait. Because before we know it, the week is over and I have to say goodbye. Again.

She will be back in May to see The Tortoise perform in her school play. Hopefully I will be more relaxed and less distracted. Hopefully I will not waste my time worrying about laundry and toilets. Hopefully, we will order more take-out.


7 thoughts on “Friday Flip Off 4/8: Family, Guests and Deadlines

  1. I perfectly captured why it is so hard to live far from family.

    We used to do weekend BBQs at my house in Iowa. The day would dawn sunny, I’d call my parents, my brother, my sister, my grandparents. I’d buy the meat to grill, they’d bring some sides, and we’d pass several hours just relaxing and enjoying each other.

    Now I’m lucky to see them several times a year. Trips are full of the stress of packing (usually we have to see them back in Iowa) and wrangling two little kids. A lot of our family’s “fun” money goes to expensive flights (Des Moines a horrible place with non-competitive rates), or to gas and hotels for a two day over 900 mile long trip.

    I miss the Easters, Thanksgivings, birthdays, Mother’s Days were we’d gather for an afternoon.

    I miss the low stress BBQ’s over the stressed out “must clean entire house” perfection.

    I miss seeing my children have a close relationship with their grandparents because we live far away.

    I haven’t seen any member of my family since Christmas.

    Thank goodness for skype and Facetime.

  2. Make the most of your time together, everything else’ll still be there at the end of the visit! 🙂

  3. But now you have the ability to cherish these times instead of thinking, “Ugh, Mom, couldn’t you come back later on?” if she lived in the same city. Now you have the opportunity to make each visit a special memory.

  4. So, when I come in May, does that mean you want me to help you tackle the craft room? I can do that, especially with a glass of wine in my hand. Loved my visit. Love you.

  5. Hon, I know what you mean. My momma lives too far away and I truly wish we could just pop buy for dinner or an unplanned sleepover. Hope May comes quickly 🙂

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