In this paper, I analyse the changes that mothers and children experience in their relationship due to the physical separations and reunions entailed by the international migration process. I argue that the different geographical configurations that migrant families take over time are the outcome of a negotiation of care responsibility and desired geographies of family life, and are accompanied by changing meanings and practices in intimate relationships: the location of care relationships is influenced by the relatives' capacity both to take part in family negotiations as well as to overcome the constraints imposed by policies. Time is relevant because it leads to shifting meanings and practices of transnational family life, as well as to the changing role of children in the family.