Far Away Grandma
How to Cope with Being a Faraway Grandma
My grandchild is six hundred miles away. She’s four months old and beginning to show real personality. I am a grateful grandma who so appreciates that she and her parents are well and prospering. I’m grateful I do get to visit her twice a year. But I am an obsessive grandma. I need to find ways to bring her closer. I hear from other grandma bloggers that technology is the way to bring family near and I must educate myself. And I am learning I must get back to my own life. Obsessive doesn’t cut it. Here are some rules I have made for myself regarding long distance grandmothering.
My daughter and her husband have wonderful jobs, excellent health care, a coop they own and they love, love, love New York. Also the daycare they have found is made in heaven.
One faraway grandma says, “As long as they are well and happy, it doesn't matter where they are in the world.” I agree when I’m not pining for a glimpse of their faces.
Another says, “It's very hard not to do the guilt trip thing but yes, you have to accept that they are happy and successful and making something of their lives.
I wish I were closer and could even help out with daycare, but I am lucky to be able to visit at least twice a year. They tend to be special times because we all try harder to make up for lost time. In fact, I think we are sometimes closer because of the distance.
Wanting to hold her
Wanting to look into her eyes
Wanting to play games, sing songs
Wanting to watch Sesame Street - I saw Big Bird the other day and burst into tears!
Wanting to watch Winnie the Pooh Christmas
Wanting to wipe away her tears
Wanting to see her smile
Wanting to feel her bones. Are they all there?
I sometimes pull all the pictures up and put them in a row to see how she is progressing. It helps.
What did long-distance grandparents do before Face Time, e-mail, texting, and Facebook? I can’t imagine. If I don’t get a snapshot on Facebook at least once a week, I fall into depression. Elodie’s smile makes the rest of Facebook boring. I’ve found I like videos as I can play them more than once.
Texting fills in the gaps of what everyone is doing. And Face Time, though challenging for me, works for live action.
I do enjoy using Face Time and Facebook. There’s something so immediate about keeping in touch this way.
After the holidays, I will look into Skype for my computer so I can have a larger view of things.
The emotional aspects of separation are not, however, so easily remedied. Face Time does not include hugs. Videos are one sided. Texts and photos are lovely but again, they are not being there. I sometimes feel sad and lonely. I am learning to manage my feelings of sadness by building memories with the techie options we have.
Visits are my favorite. Christmas is the best. We have a pattern going now. I arrive the night before the scheduled holiday, stay four days through Christmas Day plus one. We do Christmas Eve with Jenny, my other daughter who lives three blocks away.)
Christmas Day is spent in Connecticut with my son-in-law’s family. Then a daughter day to do brunch, shop walk around Brooklyn, almost always to bookstores.
My children have very busy lives, working in Manhattan at high stress jobs and living in Brooklyn where the commute each day can be two hours. They don’t need any added stress so I often plan carefully ahead of time to physically to be the least burden to the busy households and mentally to be the best grandma I can in the time we have.
Get a Life Grandma
I found obsessing over my granddaughter causes me to lose time on my work and lose interest in my life. I have made a new year’s resolution to rev up my own life. I will pursue my writing and women’s groups as well as develop new friendships. I might even start a grandma club. I’ll call it Faraway Grandmas United.
If you have wise suggestions or comments for faraway grandmas, please do include them in the comments below.