I became a grandmother in 2010, and the experience is as delightful as I thought it would be! My grandson was welcomed into our family with great joy. Initially, I spent as much time as I could with him and his parents. Often, they were at my house a week or two at a time. My grandson would giggle when I walked in the room and reach up for me—priceless moments.
When my grandson was a year old, I made the decision to move to Vancouver Island, a sixteen hour drive away. It was a difficult decision, but it had always been my dream to live near the ocean. I am very close to my children, and I knew that the relationship we had was strong enough to survive this move. But, I had to do some heavy thinking on how I was going to maintain this precious relationship with a child who could not even talk in full sentences yet.
I started by sending mail to him. Yes, you heard me right! Actual writing, on paper, put in an envelope, and delivered by the postal service from my house to his. Now, you might think it odd to send letters to a baby, but this quickly grew into a treasured tradition. I started simple, sending pictures I printed from my computer and writing notes on them, saying things like: “Grandma loves you!” I continue to try to send him something at least once a month: stickers, pictures, or a DVD of a movie are all easy to send.
He’s four now and checks the mailbox each day, looking for “Grandma” in the return address. If there hasn’t been any mail from me lately, he’ll ask his mom to let him use the phone to remind me that he’s been waiting! He also phones when he needs some “grandma love” and will wander around the house telling me all about his day. It is one of the best feelings ever.
Visits happen a few times a year. I usually fly out there to see them all. Imagine my surprise when I made one of my first visits, and my letters and pictures were all posted on the fridge! It definitely brought tears to my eyes. I was also lucky enough to be able to time a visit so that I could be there when my first granddaughter arrived; what a blessing.
When I visit, I try to make the visit about my grandchildren as much as possible. The level of stress on them in a visit is huge. They get so excited to see me, and their schedule is completely disrupted which, if not handled carefully, can be a disaster. I try to plan the first couple of days entirely around them and slowly add in other activities. Often, in those first two days, after showing me all their toys, we’ll play, watch movies, read stories and go to the park. After the initial excitement settles down, we’ll go out to shop and visit others.
Technology also makes it easy to stay connected; it’s an amazing thing! My children and I have iPads and make use of FaceTime to video chat. I am able to virtually see my grandkids in their environment, playing with each other, having a birthday party, and so much more. I can show them my pups, my fish and my home. In fact, not so long ago, we played “I Spy” via FaceTime! And as a big brother, my grandson enjoys showing his baby sister how to “see” me on the iPad.
When I do visit, I make sure to take photos of us together. They’re great to mail back to them once I am back home. The pictures help them to remember the good times we had while I was visiting. I get so much joy out of making these precious memories together and creating traditions that we all look forward to while we are apart. And best of all, now both grandchildren look for mail from Grandma!