Pre-pandemic, my yoga class ended the "semester" with a dinner out together--beer, pizza, mellow discussions among mostly women who knew little about each other than their down dog limitations. The subject turned to adult kids and how tied we are to them. More specifically, the question was raised about whether, if your children live in a city far from you, would you move to be near them when they start having children. Do you pull up your roots, leave your job and move to be near your grandkids and to help your grown child with them? My dinner companions--all of a certain older age--told stories of friends who had done that and found themselves babysitting 3 out of 5 weekdays. Some felt it was a gift to be such an integral part of their child's family; others shuddered.
This was not a road I considered when my grandkids were born in cities far from me. I was working in an office at a job I loved; so was the grandpa half of the equation. We were going to stay put and live our lives independently of our children. Three out of four of my fellow yogis felt the same way: No way, they said. Taking the job piece out of it, my fellow yogis felt they still had active lives--networks of friends; activities they pursued; dentists, doctors and hairdressers they depended on. They weren't ready to be full-time nanas and poppies. Moreover, the fear of being socially dependent on their children was enough to keep them where they were.
Comes Covid and the calculus may be adjusting. The ripple effects of the pandemic may mean that some of us don't have to quit our jobs to make a move and that it might be energizing to try a different way of living. Here's an example of what I mean.
Within the past five years. friends--he's a financial adviser and she's a speech therapist--have been blessed with four grandchildren. Two are by a daughter who lives north of New York City; two by a son who lives in Ohio. The parents live in a Virginia suburb near Washington D.C. They have decided to sell their house and move to New Jersey. They'll have an hour's commute to visit the New York kids and access to an easier drive or direct flights to Columbus. Since the pandemic, their jobs have moved online so they are no longer tethered geographically. Moreover, they won't live close enough to either set of grandkids to be regular babysitters but they'll be near enough to be more active in their lives and be helping hands in case of an emergency. They'll be within range of visiting friends from the old neighborhood and near enough to Manhatten to take in its cultural delights.
Variations on arrangements like this could become the new norm for those of us who want to live closer to our kids and grandkids and yet maintain our independence--and maybe try a new lifestyle while we're still energetic enough to do it.
photo: Maia Lemov