Help, I am a Long-Distance Grandparent, Guest blog by Deborah Haddix
Our daughters had each been married for a couple of years when it happened. One of them called from her home two hours away to announce that my husband and I were going to become grandparents.
From the moment I hung up that phone, I began to imagine this new relationship. Of course, I was going to be the coolest grandmother on the planet and this child, and I was going to have something extraordinary.
The months passed, and our first granddaughter was born in early December. We were there for the birth. We were there the following weekend to help and to see our precious grandbaby again. The next thing we knew, it was Christmastime, and all of our family was gathering at our home for the holidays. Aunts, uncles, and great-grandparents were meeting this little one for the very first time. It was an all-too-rare time of family togetherness. That special Christmas we even experienced a massive snow storm that snowed everyone in for a couple of extra days. It was a wonderful, family-filled December but as the month ended, the snow cleared. Everyone went home.
Next came January, then February.
It did not take long once those cold, dreary months settled in for reality to also settle. While we had been able to spend most of December with our family, weather conditions and busy schedules meant neither family was making the two-hour trip back and forth very often.
During those lonely months, it hit. I began to comprehend — the images I had created around this new and extraordinary relationship were not going to be my reality.
As I thought about this, I realized that my image making had been based on a model that was dear to me: my mother’s relationship with my children.
My mother lived in our same town, fifteen minutes away. She had been involved in the daily lives of my children from the day they were born: school functions, sporting events, lunch outings on school holidays, and slumber parties complete with movies, popcorn, and games.
This was not my reality. I lived about two hours away from my grandchild. Daily interaction, even weekly, was not possible.
I was a long-distance grandmother!
Still dealing privately with this very depressing fact, we received yet another phone call – from our other daughter. Yes. She was expecting our second grandchild. As if two hours distance wasn’t bad enough, with this call we were looking at ten!
My husband and I immediately began investigating different travel options in hopes of finding something that would get us there quickly when it came time for the birth. The distance of each of our homes from nearby airports meant air travel was no quicker than driving. So driving was the choice.
Needless to say, we didn’t make that birth. We got the call around 10:00 PM, jumped immediately into the car and drove all night. Our grandson was born while we were still about two hours out. It had happened already. We missed out on a special event because of the traveling distance.
Still, we enjoyed a couple of days “oohing” and “aahing” over our precious bundle and loving on our new little family unit. Then we packed up and headed back home.
Home – where the idea kept rolling around in my mind until it was firmly planted I AM a long-distance grandma!
The following spring, my husband and I were invited back to Missouri for our grandson’s baby dedication. It would be a quick trip. One my husband couldn’t take due to work. So my mom went along to keep me company on the drive and to spend some time with her great-grandson.
I remember it so clearly. Saturday evening, sitting in the living room, and out of nowhere, my daughter looked at me and asked, “Mom, what are we going to do?”
Catching me off guard, her question prompted my one-word response, “What?”
Explaining, she went on. “There’s a ten-hour drive between us. I want my son to know you. I want him to know his grandparents, and I want you to know him. What are we going to do?”
There it was, out in the open.
The thought that had been rolling around in my heart for nearly a year and a half, a thought I had not shared with anyone.
What an affirmation to know that she cared; that the relationship between grandparent and grandchild was important to her.
Needless to say, we were not able to come up with any pat answers that very night, but we did purpose of finding them.
It has been nearly twelve years, yet the purpose planted deep within my heart that night remains with me. Constantly in search of practical ways to make long-distance grandparent/grandchild connections, I have gathered and implemented many ideas over these years.
It has been a thrill for this long-distance grandma to realize that her original images of this one-of-a-kind relationship were not that far off. While I remain unable to interact with most of my grandchildren’s daily lives, I can overcome the distance between to build close, loving relationships with each one.
Coming soon on this website: Praying with Purpose: The 30 Day Challenge for Praying Grandparents by Deborah Haddix
By: Deborah Haddix, Writer, Speaker, Christian Life CoachDeborah is author of Praying with Purpose: Helping Equip Your Grandchildren to Stand Fast in the Faith and developer of the 30-Day Praying with Purpose Grandparent Prayer Challenge.