To Move or Not to Move (Near the Grandkids)?

Should grandparents give up the life they have to be closer to their grandkids? Our columnist, Lisa Carpenter, weighs the pros and cons.

By Lisa Carpenter

I'm a long-distance grandma. On occasion, I complain about the many miles between my two grandsons and me. After a recent long-winded lamentation about what I miss out on by them living so far away, I was asked, by a non-grandma, Why don't you just move closer to them?

My short answer: Sheesh! I have a life!

My long answer: I have a life. A life filled with interests, activities, and relationships that make me who I am, all in addition to my grandma role. I would love living near my grandchildren, but if that means giving up all I have outside of being a grandma, I respectfully decline.

Many grandparents do move simply to be near their grandchildren. I applaud them for making a choice that works for them. That’s the key, though: making choices that work for us individually. Moving away from the place I’ve called home for more than 30 years simply doesn’t work for me.

For starters, relocating to be near grandchildren is easier for retired grandparents. Like many grandmothers, I still work, still have a job, still have a career. My husband, my partner in grandparenting, also still works. Though I’m a freelancer and can take my work with me wherever I go, my husband’s job serves as the main anchor to our location.

Yet his job isn’t the only reason for not moving. That would be my oldest and youngest daughters, siblings on either side of the mother to my grandsons. Those two daughters live less than an hour’s drive from me. While I love my grandsons to pieces, I love my daughters to pieces, too. And I love them living near me, near where our family has always lived. Plus, some day in the not-too-distant future, one or both of those daughters will have children of their own. Meaning more grandchildren I’ll love to pieces—local grandchildren, no relocation required.

There’s ultimately more to my reasoning, and the word “home” serves as bottom line. I love my physical house as well as the not-so physical things I’ve long cultivated—friendships, activities, associations—that make my chosen place feel like home. Sure, there’s much to be said about making new friends, finding new interests, but I’m perfectly capable of doing both without relocating to the place my grandsons call home.

And that’s another consideration—the place my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons call home. Their home is in the desert. My home is in the mountains. Like City Mouse and Country Mouse, we each have spots we’re comfortable in, spots we prefer to be. Theirs is currently the desert; mine will always be the mountains.

My grandsons are the icing on my cake, the cheese on my pizza, the clapper that rings my bell. Yet no matter how truly, madly, deeply I love them, they are only part of what makes my life full and fulfilling. All the other parts are what I will delightfully share with my grandsons each time we’re together, each time we confirm that distance is certainly no indicator of a grandmother’s love for her grandchildren.

Would you move to be closer to your grandkids? Tell me in the comments below.

Lisa Carpenter is a mother, grandmother and writer of the blog Grandma's Briefs. You can read more of her musings here.

Comments

My husband and I moved from Michigan to Arizona approximately 5 mo ths ago to be near our granddaughters. What we didn't take into account was that they are now 10 and 13 and are very busy, independent girls. Even though we moved into the same neighborhood, we hardly see them. We are very proud of their accomplishments but life here is not how we imagined it. My husband and I are both terribly homesick and bored. This life is the total opposite of the life we left in Michigan. We are seriously considering selling our house and moving back. We're afraid of what emotional stress it would cause our son and his family. We are not happy here and can't imagine this for the rest of our life. I hope we make the right decision for everyone involved.

bware1951@yahoo.com on 2014-11-26 13:40:24

Initially I was sure I would be moving near my beloved grandkids.....but as many visits have shown me, I would be leaving friends, other family and my home in favor of a family who has their own life.
They are so busy with activities it seems i barely get to see them when I am here which leaves me a lot of unfilled time on my hands.
I am able to spend about 5 weeks with them in the winter and they have a summer home where I live which gives me another 3 to 4 weeks with them along with a short visit here and there.
I am 63 and let's face it, at this point, I want to continue packing as much into life as I possibly can.
I love them (as my grand daughter wrote to me) soo much, like as much as all the stars above. My most important objective is not quantity of time, but hopefully quality time, which will allow me to add to their emotional bank account upon which they can draw for a life time.

kdavis1949090@gmail.com on 2013-02-13 08:03:49

Our son and daughter both lived 10 miles from us before being married. They and their spouses all relocated to our town within two years of marrying. One couple lives within two miles of us; the other couple lives two blocks from us. Both couples are now parents of two children each. That means that we are proud grandparents to one grandson and three granddaughters. Neither have ever mentioned whether they moved so close by on purpose, or by coincidence. Whatever the reason, it's great! On the other hand, I doubt that I would have been the one to move to be close to them. In fact, we have the opportunity to move to a much larger, inherited property twenty -six miles away......BUT I will not move AWAY from them. All works out brilliantly, and our kids don't take advantage of the fact that we are willing, able and anxiously waiting to be asked to baby-sit! All this said, we live in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. Everything is closeby!

lindajige@gmail.com on 2013-02-13 02:39:20

After living in a brand new senior community for 3 years, my son moved to the same state and asked me to move near his family, in a community similar to where I was living.I had had a rocky relationship with his wife, but his pleas convinced me to move. I left a beautiful home and new friends and even a p/t job I loved. After 3 years I moved back to near the first area. I had to downsize to a very old community because of the housing prices.Remarks from a grandchild to his parents about me, to which I was not privy,caused relationship problems and untold stress. Our relationship is better, now that I am away from them.Would that I had listened to my friends and stayed put...

dena117 on 2012-10-16 17:44:54