For many years when I was single I would move back-and-forth from my mom’s home in Puerto Rico to the U.S.A. or vice versa. I could book a flight, and be with her and my extended family whenever I wanted to.  Living far away was not an issue.

Nevertheless, when you get married, and have children it’s not as simple as hopping on to a plane or having your whole family come and visit you.
Many times, I have found myself alone with my li’l family during important events in our lives: little one’s baptism, his PreK graduation, birthdays, holidays, and more.
I remember little one’s baptism, and at the time I didn’t know anyone here.  My extended family couldn’t come; and the only people during the ceremony were my in-laws, hubby, and the baby’s godparents (my sister and brother-in-law), and their toddler.  After the ceremony we went home and hubby barbecued, and that was that. 
I remember calling my mom and I was just sobbing, wishing she and the rest of the family were here with me. She told me, “Mi’ja no siempre vamos a estar presentes, ese es el precio de vivir lejos de la familia. Serán muchas las fiestas y celebraciones que no pasaremos juntas.”   (My daughter, we won’t always be present. That’s the price to pay when you live away from your extended family. There will be plenty of holidays, and celebrations that we won’t spend together.)
Her words though true, hurt deeply.  

It’s been almost ten years now, and I still miss my family. However, you get used to it, but now it doesn’t hurt as much.  
Which brings me to the 15 things that only people who live far away from their families will understand. Brought to you directly from the mouths of parents from across the world: 

  • It’s hard for kids to understand why family who lives faraway can’t be there for big moments (or even small moments that feel big to our kids.) – Robbie 
  • It’s not distance that determines the strength of a relationship. –  Amanda 
  • Makes you appreciate family rather than taking them for granted. – Lisa 
  • Family time is quality time. – Lisa 
  • Our children always look forward to family visits, no matter when or where they are. – Lisa 
  • Being away from your real family makes it hard to be present in their lives. – Johanna 
  • I feel that I have to catch up every time I have the chance to be with them. – Johanna
  • The hardest for me was when I wasn’t able to be at my grandfather’s funeral. – Johanna
  • Being so far apart and with the visits so few and far between, you need to seek out every moment with them. Especially parents when you have children of your own. –  Fariba 
  • Thank God for Facetime! – Fariba 
  • When you live far away you learn to enjoy every moment you actually get with your grandchildren/nephews/nieces to the absolute maximum. – Stephen 
  • Our few weeks together per year feel more meaningful than the short day visits we used to have before I moved abroad. Time together is so much more precious now, and we always try to make the most of it. – Svenja
  • One thing I think we all understand is the joy we feel when we are back in each other’s arms. Yes, there’s always dysfunction in every family. But, the contentment of just being together trumps any negativity. – Lisa 
  • I think that it’s still possible to be close to your family even if you aren’t physically close to your family. I also think that we learn that we can really have a fulfilling life even though we aren’t physically close to our family, that our friends matter a lot. – Ann
And, last but not least from yours truly:
  • Your friends become your “family”. A family bound not by blood but by friendship. – Frances 
What else would you add to this list?
A special thank you to the bloggers for their contribution to this post!


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  1. Well written, Frances. It is lovely to know with you, and I look forward to our continued friendship. You are right, a family can definitely extend well beyond genetic connections. Blessings to you. ?

  2. My dear Lisa! Thank you so much for your kind words. I too, look forward to your continued friendship. Hugs!

  3. So true!As someone whose family lives abroad ,this article is spot on.We try to continuously read books and use Skype to keep the children connected to their family in Africa?

  4. Thanks Trish for stopping by! Strangely enough we have yet to use Skype, but we do use the video apps on our phones to connect with our family.

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