Thankfully, for the nearly three years of our marriage, Alison and I have always lived close to family. That wasn’t my experience growing up as my family moved across the country and around the world. While living in Michigan, we were about 2 miles from her parents and now that we’re living in Virginia, we're about 90 minutes from my parents. It's been a new and somewhat strange experience to see my family on a regular basis. In Michigan, we'd often go over to Alison's parents house for dinner and about once a month now, my dad comes over to go to breakfast with Benedict and I. I know that this closeness won't last since life changes will inevitably to spread us apart, but I'm making a conscious effort to take advantage of the close proximity while I can.
There's lots of opportunities for get togethers when you're an adult and live close to your parents. Birthday parties, Mother's Day, random day trips, and even play dates all happen on a regular basis. As a young parent, that also means that inexpensive baby sitters are always close at hand, allowing more flexibility for Alison and I's schedule while affording aunts, uncles, and grandparents more playtime with Benedict. It's a small reminder of days gone by, when there was a greater emphasis on community and family life. By taking advantage of spending time with parents and extended family who live relatively close by, you strengthen the bonds that you have with those people and give your children the opportunity to form lasting ones as well.
It always seems that we don't know what we had until it's gone. While many people will live in the same town all their lives, the economy is driving more and more career related moves or even simply lifestyle moves. Your job might change, your wife might get a promotion, or your parents might move to a home where it's warm to celebrate their retirement. Something, somewhere will happen and that will cause a move, perhaps one that's a significant distance away. By taking advantage of the time that you do have, you won't regret it when the opportunity is no more.
There's plenty of ways to take full advantage of living nearby. My dad's monthly breakfast idea is a very creative one. Other ideas are a regular (weekly?) family meal, summer hikes, winter sledding, or even just a night out on the back deck every once in a while. Incorporate everyone's interests and have some fun. Make great memories and cherish this golden opportunity that you have.
Living close to family can be a great relief to both parents and their adult children. Bonds are maintained, children are raised, and life is shared. While it may not last forever, be sure to take full advantage of the blessing and fun of living in close proximity to your family.