I think the answer to your question, Claire, is as varied as there are people.
I left home at barely 18 to go to college and, truthfully, to get away from an abusive family situation. It was my way of protecting myself. I never came back home and am at peace with those decisions. I believe them to be right for me and the circumstances. I don't regret doing that for one minute.
Now...my children. For a long while they lived within 6 to 20 miles of us but, as they became more ambitious, they spread their wings and went greater distances.
At this time, I'm in Kentucky and my "baby chicks" are everywhere from Maryland, Georgia, California and more farther away places. They seem to be happy and are growing and thriving where they've planted themselves and that's how I think it should be. They're big people now and have their own lives.
Yes, I miss them, especially since I'm their only living parent but, as Margi already mentioned, we have wonderful communication tools such as the Internet and phone systems that allow us to "see" each other as often as we can.
Of course, I would (selfishly) like to have all of them visit on a regular basis, along with their families but I'm a realist and understand that that's not going to happen. My youngest son is expecting his fourth child in November and my oldest son will have six children by the end of September. It boggles my mind trying to conceive of traveling with those two circuses.
I do love it when they come to visit and Glenn and I make it a point to see them as often as possible. At least the ones in Georgia. They're only about an 8-hour drive from our house.
However, the real treat for us when any of them come to visit is that because it is infrequent, it makes the visit even more cherished and we all have the best time. I consider those times some of life's special "treats."
Now, as I've gotten older, I understand the wisdom of my maternal grandfather's words when my family came to visit him and my grandmother, "It's nice to see you come and it's nice to see you go."
When I was a young pooch, I thought those words so cruel. Not now. I fully understand what he was saying. On this side of 60, it IS nice to see a car full of energy-packed youngsters head down the driveway pointed toward THEIR house.
Papa knew what he was talking about. There were 5 children in my family, who came to visit at least once a summer. He had another daughter who had 11 children. Try to picture THAT visit!!! Whew! They came to visit my parents once and I think I'm still recovering from that trip. 16
children in one house.
Another daughter also had 5. A third had 3. Papa and Maga had their hands full when their grandchildren came to visit.
That last comment got me. I've got to get some rest.