Just the Four of Us

Just The Four Of Us | Houston Moms Blog

This past Halloween my little family of four went trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, and I was reminded once again that it’s just us. While other families walked around with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, it was just the four of us because our parents live on opposite coasts, and our siblings are almost just as far away.

In most cases, I would actually prefer it to be just the four of us. I cherish my little T.E.A.M. {Travis, Evelyn, Amelia, and Mandy} so much that sometimes I find it hard to share them with other people, but around the holidays I usually can’t help but wish Grandma and Grandpa were around to help us celebrate. Not to mention, our oldest would be absolutely thrilled if Grandma and Paw Paw could come over and play each and every day. 

Our reality is that this just isn’t an option. We get to see my husband’s mom about once a year, and my parents usually get to visit a couple times a year. But that’s it. There’s no grandma around the corner to spend afternoons with or to call for help when we need someone to watch a sick kiddo while we’re at work. My dad can’t come help hang Christmas lights or put together the new swingset we’re planning to buy this year. When we need a babysitter, we have to plan way in advance and pay well for quality care. 

In cases of emergency, our friends are typically our one and only lifeline, which is why we value our closest relationships so very much. Without great friends, it would be nearly impossible to survive parenting without family nearby.

With the season of thanks in full swing right now, I encourage you to look at your current situation… If you have helpful family nearby, hug their necks. Tell them how much you appreciate them and how happy you are that you get to share some of life’s greatest moments together. And if you have friends that don’t have family nearby, be family for them when you can be. Watch their kiddos so they can have a date night, or check with them before you run to the grocery store to see if they need anything. Invite them to your house for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, whatever. They may not always take you up on your offers, but I promise just the thought will mean a lot to them.  

More and more families seem to be stretched further away from each other; it would be so nice if it became the norm to support these families. Wouldn’t it be great if we became each other’s family during such an amazing – but also difficult phase of life? I think so, and I know that we are so thankful for friends that have become like family to us. 

Are you parenting without family close by? What do you find most challenging about your situation? Let us know in the comments below. 

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17 Responses to Just the Four of Us

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    Kristin November 17, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    We just recently left Houston, where my parents live. We have definitely missed them- not just the company but also the help. We have some extended family near us now but it’s still not the same as your own parents! You don’t call on them the same way you do your own. Love your encouraging reminder to help out families who don’t have family near by. I’m going to try to do that.

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      Mandy B November 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      It isn’t the same as much as we try sometimes. My mom and dad are definitely who I miss the most. I’m reminding myself to do the same when I can too. Thank you for reading and sharing your story with me!

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    Marcia November 17, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    It is just as hard on us parents and grandparents. My son is in the Navy and will always be at least half a country away. (There are no submarine bases in OK) We see him twice a year and it is too easy to estimate the total number of times that I will feel his hug in my lifetime.

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      Mandy B November 17, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

      Oh mama, I can’t even imagine. I tell my husband all the time that I won’t let my babies leave me when they grow up but I know that’s not realistic. I hope you get a good long hug from him soon!

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    Mandy Ahr November 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    Just the two of us. I am a single working mom of a 9-year old in the Heights. My mom and dad passed away when my son was 4. My son’s father died when he was 6. His other grandmother died when he was 7. His only living grandfather lives in Canada, and he has an aunt in Australia. Today I had to miss work to stay home with my son because he got a stomach virus. I am losing 8 hours of contract pay because of this. I don’t have a partner to trade off with. Most of my friends are married with kids. It is not easy doing it alone!

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      Mandy B November 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

      Mandy, I can’t even imagine. My husband can rarely take off work so I am the only one that does doctor appointments and stays home with them when they’re sick so I can relate to you on that. I hope your son feels better soon! Thank you for reading and know you’re not alone. We have a few new contributors that are right where you are and will be writing about it soon.

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    Elissa B November 17, 2016 at 8:31 pm #

    For me, my struggle was my PPD. My son didn’t sleep through the night until he was a year old, and then slept really poorly until he was 2. And now at brand new 5, he still wakes me up sometimes. I had a lot of contributing factors to my PPD (56 hrs of labor, with 24 hrs of pitocin, breastfeeding issues, stressful job to go back to at 8 weeks) but mostly it was lack of sleep. Hubs was there and was great, but we didn’t have a back up or a safety net. We once paid $275 for a night nurse/sleep trainer to come in for 12 hrs just so we could sleep. We agreed it was the best money we ever spent.

    Our parents are still young….between the 5 grandparents, only 1 is retired. My parents are also dealing with taking care of my 96 year old grandfather. So even though we have recently moved closer (6 hrs instead of 24 or a plane ride), they are fully engaged in their own lives and jobs.

    Its been a struggle. I tell you…the struggle has been REAL. But the rewards have been real as well. We moved across the country this summer for a better job for my husband and had we not learned to fly solo at the tender ages of 22 and 23 when we left the midwest for Arizona, that move would have been traumatic. But we are used to self-sufficiency and I am SO PROUD of us!

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    Lauren November 18, 2016 at 12:46 am #

    I’m a military spouse and the hardest part for me has to be the fact that we have moved so much (6 times within 5 years) so it’s hard to try to create such a strong bond with friends that you just met and trust them with your walking heart. We’ve never had family around us to be able to rely on, it’s always been just us. We were living in northern new york when I got pregnant (entire family is in the south) and when I was 30 weeks pregnant we had to leave new york, my husband went to Virginia for training while I went to Georgia to be with my mom for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy. My husband made it to Georgia a day before our daughter was born (which was an unplanned last minute induction) and we had to move away from family again when she was just 2 weeks old. We were about 6 hours away from most of our family at that point, then moved all the way across the country when she was 10 months old. We have since gone through a 9 month deployment and not having family around, or even any friends that we trust was extremely difficult for me. I was essentially a single parent, but married. During this deployment if I was having a rough day, I didn’t have someone that I could call up to watch her so I could decompress and have a little me time. It’s extremely difficult being so far away from family and never knowing what tomorrow holds for our little family. For instance, my husband just got home from deployment in August, yet he’s already been gone for about 1/4 of this month, with about another 1/4 coming and none of it has been planned in advance. Luckily we have been here in Colorado for 2.5 years now so we are slowly building trust with our friends, and while your friends become your family in this lifestyle, it still doesn’t replace them.

    • Avatar
      Emma November 19, 2018 at 8:37 pm #

      Big hugs from a fellow MIL spouse. It’s a struggle for all of us, though we’ve been lucky to have stable postings for the last three before he retired last year. Our son was born in NOLA during the last posting and I made some great friends through baby groups. But then we moved and had to start again. With LO in school and me being almost unemployable due to huge gaps in employment… not to mention I’m British, it’s still difficult to get a job because we have no one to watch our son if he’s home sick from school.

      You are not alone. Stay strong. Xx

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    Erica Jenkins November 19, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    We have family in state, a few towns over so we have them around if needs be. I definitely try to look out for my friends and neighbors that need extra love and help. I love your girls names. My two girls are Evelyn and Amelia too. ?❤

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      Mandy B November 20, 2016 at 8:41 am #

      Erica, that’s so awesome! I think their names are making a comeback. You are a saint for thinking about your friends and neighbors without family close by. Thank you for reading!

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    Stephanie November 20, 2016 at 7:49 am #

    What a great article, this hits close to home for us. We are currently living in Duluth, MN, the Duluth Moms blog shared this article on their page and I just had to read it since we are selling our house this spring and moving to the Houston area. We will be moving away from both of our families, it will be a hard transition. Reading your article helped to see some of the struggles but also that you can get through it and just how important it is to have good people in our lives.

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      Mandy B November 20, 2016 at 8:43 am #

      Stephanie, you can do it! It is so scary but social media and face time and all the technology we have these days make it a little easier. Houston is a GREAT city! Everyone told us we’d hate it here when we first moved here but we actually love it so much that we don’t ever plan to leave. Let me be the first to tell you, welcome to Houston! Thank you for reading!

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    Sara March 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

    We have no family here in Houston. Our daughters daycare teachers are like her extended family. Luckily some have offered their babysitting services too. It’s so hard to have no one here though. When my daughter is playing a game or helping set the table she always wants to leave a spot for her grandparents. We have a few friends here but none of them are in the same place we are with their lives and so it’s hard to get together and we never have offers to spend the holidays anywhere. Luckily at least one set of grandparents comes for the major holidays and all the birthdays. We love living here and the opportunities we have here but sometimes it’s sad when I think about how much my daughter would love to be around family.

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    Michelle T. March 3, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

    Hits a tender spot with my family. We moved to Houston area almost 3 years ago from SoCal and don’t have family close, the closest relative is Albuquerque area. I’m a SAHM, my husband is our provider. Finding a church family didn’t happen until about 9 months ago. With two toddlers, 3 1/2 and 2 y/o, it’s difficult to be consistent with attending regularly because of “this or that”. My husband and I haven’t had a date night since our eldest was born. It’s put a huge rut in our marriage. To top it off our youngest is a clingy one, won’t leave our side(s) for nothing, screams and attempts to cause choking.
    It’s definitely been hard because we get visitors maybe once a year, if we’re lucky, from family. I just want this “season” of our lives to be over… I’m so done with feeling alone, tired, depressed, and always angry.

    S.O.S.

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    Erin March 4, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

    Holidays are especially hard. We see all the cars lining the street, but rarely at our home.
    My kids yern to have their grandparents around. We see my mom once every few years. My husbands parents come once a year, but they’re not into playing with their grandkids. I’ve learned some grandparents “live” for their grandkids, and unfortunately others do not. They really don’t want to be bothered.
    When my In laws are in town we have to nearly beg for a night out. They never seem thrilled to let us go. Hurts like hell.
    It is what it is. It’s still really hard sometimes.

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    Jacqui Cone March 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    Yes! It is often just the 3 of us in our home and I find myself being more and more content with that. Our situation differs in that we have siblings as close as next door. Being close though, I find it still being just us. We, or mostly me, as my husband can’t take time off work as easily, doctor it, stay-home-sick it, and often go dateless night (which we so desperately need) because it is just the 3 of us. That is what we struggle with. 99.9% of the time, I am content, but that .01%…I want a date night 😍

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