Moving Closer to Family
BOOMER's therapist Fran Marmor on families moving closer to each other.
My husband and I moved to Virginia from California six months ago. Virginia is beautiful, but we were really happy in California. We were looking to downsize, and my son – my only child – practically begged us to move to Virginia to be close to him and his new wife. I was apprehensive because we had a great life and community in Southern California, and I didn’t know how my daughter-in-law would feel. But what parent wouldn’t be thrilled to have their adult child want them to live nearby? So here we are, and we are mostly alone. They have invited us over once. When we try to do something with them, my son tells me that they are really busy, but they’ll get back to us. They never do. Should I ask why he asked us to move here in the first place? I feel like I saw them more when we visited from California. We feel trapped here, with no friends and, it seems, pretty much no family either. I feel we made the biggest mistake of our life and I’m frankly very resentful.
I am sorry that at least so far, this move has not been what you hoped it would be. I bet your son truly wanted you to live closer and is probably glad that you do. Often people really miss each other and long to be closer – but don’t realize how full their lives are and how difficult scheduling extra family time can be. I understand that you feel hurt. You might ask your son if there is anything you can do to make getting together happen more often. You could ask if it is better to schedule time together through him or his wife. (As you know, women are often the keepers of the social calendar.) Also, it will take time, but there are undoubtedly good friends for you to find in Virginia. You just haven’t met them yet! Check out newcomers’ groups and activities so you can begin to form your own community and not feel so isolated. You are right, Virginia is beautiful, and hopefully before long you will have friends, activities and more time with your son. If after a time, though, you still wish you hadn’t made this move, consider calling it a sabbatical or adventure – and move back west. Sometimes just knowing that is an option helps you feel less trapped! Janet, you sound like a good mother and I am hopeful that in time you’ll celebrate that you had the courage to move across the country, motivated by the love you have for your son.