Sunday, 2 November 2014

Long-Distance Grandparenting

When my oldest son was nine months old, hubby and I packed up and moved across the continent to Toronto Canada. There was reason to this madness which I won't go into here, but the result was that, though we were now surrounded by my husband's family, my kids were 3,000 miles from mine. I have explained in other posts how important my family is to me, and how I wanted my kids to grow up with the warm feeling of having family around them. But I don't think I've ever told you about how my mom responded to this new situation.

She is the best long-distance grandma ever. She came up with innovative ideas for how to stay close to our kids. She recorded herself reading Dr. Seuss, with Dad ringing a bell when it was time to turn the page, and then sent the recording and the book to our boys so she could "read" them bedtime stories. She sent tapes of children's music. Every Christmas brings a box of presents, wrapped in her distinctive old-fashioned paper and carefully selected for each child's interests. She mails cards with money on birthdays, and she and Dad call on the birthday to sing. Halloween and Easter she mails boxes of treats -- including homemade -- with cute little notes and stickers. (The kids pounce on these and painstakingly divvy everything up evenly between each person -- and of course there's always just the right number in the box.) Mom also made sure she had the email address of each grandchild and keeps up to date on what is going on in their lives. She cheers over their successes and prays over their challenges. She often sends messages of her hopes for each of us and expresses how important each family member is to her. Even though my kids lived in closer proximity to my husband's family, I think they have felt closer to mine.

Thursday my husband and I went to the pharmacy together, and as we were returning home, I realized I hadn't done anything for my own grandchild for Halloween. I want to start sending boxes of goodies and carry on the tradition my mom started, so that I can be a great long-distance grandma too. I have a great example to follow. Then I added that of course, now that our kids are grown and Mom has so much on her plate, and she just got back from a year in England, and...well, I didn't expect her to keep on doing the treat boxes and everything forever. Just as I said this, we pulled into the driveway, and there was a box sticking out of the mailbox. My husband said, "There's your Mom's Halloween box." And of course it was. Right on time, as always. The boys' reaction? "Grandma's come through again!"

I know it's silly to cry over a box of rice krispie treats and mini chocolate bars, but I nearly did. In a rush, my mom was there in the kitchen with us, watching the divvying up of the loot. You could feel the love pouring out and filling the room. It was like opening up a box of home.

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