I'm currently in the middle of a week spent with my in-laws (mom, dad and sister). I love them dearly and they are good people. It's hard for me to be with them, though, without aching to live in a place where my own parents could be an influence on my children, at least a few times a year (or even once a year!).
My in-laws smother the kids with kisses and affectionate talk in altered tones. They are always ready to help the older kids with homework and play the little "games" I don't have patience for over and over and over with the little ones that the kids giggle and giggle and giggle about ("Oh no! Where did Aaron go!?!" x 500). They take the kids for long, long walks and feed them lots and lots of food. I'm so grateful for all of this (...almost always).
With my dad they would have a very different experience. He would get down on the floor with them and play and wrestle. He would show them things and... well, the fact of the matter is that I don't know exactly what he would do because it's been so many years that it makes me cry to think of it (almost 4) (excuse me while I wipe my eyes and blow my nose). His wife would ask the kids questions and be infinitely interested and plan craft projects and make yummy food for and maybe with them.
My mom would read them book after book after book. She would point out interesting things and teach them words and concepts. She would teach and teach and the kids would feel her love for her God and His plan and her Savior and His sacrifice every single day. She would always give them something interesting to do. She would reprimand them when they needed it. She would sit back and watch them interact with each other. And she would laugh.
The things Greg's parents do, my parents would do very little of (or in more moderation). The things my parents would do, Greg's parents do very little of..
I am so, so grateful my kids have loving grandparents living close enough that we see them many times a year. But it's hard to express how difficult it is for me to have my kids growing up largely without their other grandparents. It's probably the hardest thing about living here, not to mention what usually REALLY gets me: all the things my kids do and say and ARE that my parents can't experience.
And don't even get me started on aunts and uncles and cousins. They see their Polish cousin (yes, without an "s" on the end) on Easter and Christmas. He's 23. They pretty much never get to see their (soon to be) sixteen other cousins, who are ages 13 and under and some of the cutest, smartest little people in the world.
I just had to unload. I know it could be worse (My parents are still alive! And I get along with all my siblings! And many Americans don't get to see their family often, either! etc.) but sometimes one needs to throw oneself a pity party. Sorry if I got confetti in your hair.