When Julie was a baby we moved three hours from my hometown of Baltimore--but our new town just so happened to be an hour from my Grandma's house--where my parents decided to retire. So, for the next seven years my parents were an hour away. We were together for all the family birthdays and holidays, and they came for some of the kids' soccer games and performances. We went there for dinner or just because. And it was easy for them to watch the kids if Scott and I went on little getaways.
Three years ago that all changed. We moved to Chicago and then to Georgia, and since then, our lives have changed. No longer can my parents drive over for a dinner or special event. Instead of impromptu visits, our trips are planned months in advance. And instead of quick dinners or an overnight, our visits are much longer---two, three, four weeks at a time.
Friends or neighbors are sometimes shocked or amazed when I tell them how long my parents visit. But these long visits are our new way of life and they are special to us. They can no longer be there for every little milestone or event, but in a way, they see more of our everyday lives during these long visits. They get to know our routines and schedules. They know what the kids love to eat, how to help with homework and their favorite activities. In those visits, they live our lives with us, and experience our little milestones. This time Julie turned 10. Johnny lost his first tooth and Josie started to walk along furniture. We visited an apple orchard, explored the zoo and history museum and toured a nearby plantation. They volunteered in the school, watched the kids perform at karate class, played games and read books.
It's not easy living so far away, so during these visits we make memories together.