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    « Friday fun: 5 festive favorites | Main | Grandma's brave boys visit the big man »

    What being a grandma looks like in my world

    Those of us with grandchildren all share the same title: grandparent. Though we share the title, what being a grandma or grandpa really looks like for each of us is, like the names our grandchildren call us, unique and crafted to fit our individual worlds.

    Here is what being a grandma looks like in my world:

    toddler in mom's bootsMac wears Mommy's boots.I'm known as Gramma to my only two grandchildren, Bubby, age 5, and Mac, age 2. One of the top defining traits of my grandma experience is that I'm a long-distance grandma. No whining or pining here, just the truth. My grandsons live more than 800 miles away, which means I don't see them daily. Not weekly or monthly, either. That used to make me crazy but I've grown used to it. It's what fits my world and theirs.

    Though I don't see my grandsons daily, they are on my heart and mind daily. I consider what they're doing, how they're doing. I say prayers for them daily, with the hope they're healthy, happy, making their way in this world without too many bumps, bruises or bullies in their midst.

    Every other day or so — sometimes more often, sometimes less — I hear from my daughter Megan, their mom. Either by text or talk, Megan shares big news and small about my grandsons. How much Mac is living up to the reputation of the terrible twos or how much he's made the family laugh while making cookies, what Bubby's latest outing has been with his pals or how well he's doing in kindergarten. If they're doing great... or not.

    Boy decorates Christmas cookiesBubby decorates Christmas cookies.

    In addition to talking and texting, Megan often sends pictures and videos of Bubby and Mac. They make me smile — sometimes even make me laugh out loud — and they warm my heart. They also keep me from being distraught about things I miss out on by living so far away.

    Those photos and more get me through from one Facetime visit with the boys to the next. Such sessions with the boys have been rather hit or miss for the past year or so as the boys are rambunctious, Megan is busy. But we fit them in when we can, and we're newly committed to a weekly FaceTime attempt.

    During FaceTime visits, Jim and I share the phone on our end, Bubby and Mac share on theirs. Mac is quite a chatterbox, though, so sharing for them means Mac owns the phone most of the time. Which is okay with Bubby, who fits in what he can, when he can. And Jim and I mostly just chuckle the entire time at the things Mac says, the things Bubby interjects here and there.

    Silly toddler decorating Christmas cookiesMac keeps the family in stitches while decorating cookies.

    Those brief and busy moments of FaceTime keep us connected as best we can across the miles.

    Every few months or so, I fly all those miles to visit my grandsons. As my son-in-law, Preston, must attend many conferences throughout the year for his job and Megan often goes with, it's worked out quite well for this freelancing grandma to pack up her computer and grandma bag and head to the desert to babysit Bubby and Mac for a week or so while Daddy and Mommy go conferencing. When I go, I take thousands of photos (literally), to last me from one visit to the next. Such times are well documented here.

    For a variety of reasons related to Megan's and Preston's work schedules, those kinds of visits will be less frequent going forward. Which means PawDad and I must find ways to make trips whether they need us for babysitting duty or not. And Megan and Preston hope to reciprocate with trips our way with the boys, too.

    boy rides bike to schoolBubby rides his bike to kindergarten.That said, it's easier — and less expensive — for me (and Jim, when he can) to travel to see the boys than it is for them to visit our house. It happens, though. Megan has brought them to the mountains one spring and one fall (twice in the fall for Bubby). And there was one fortunate summer that Preston's conference was held in my city, so the boys stayed with PawDad and me while Daddy and Mommy conferenced mere miles away. A bonus when they visit my house is that they also get to see Aunt Andie and Aunt Brianna, who live nearby.

    As a long-distance grandma, holiday celebrations don't usually include time with my grandsons. I've enjoyed Thanksgiving with Bubby twice — once at my place, once at his (Mac wasn't around for either). Mac and Bubby came to Gramma and PawDad's for Christmas the year Mac was born, which was wonderful — for PawDad and me. For Megan and Preston, the traveling was a pain, leading them to rule out future Christmas travels for the time being. They want to make their own Christmas traditions at home with their little family, and (hassle-filled) traveling prevents that. I understand... and I deal. And I talk on the phone to Megan and the boys during the holidays.

    All other holidays are spent apart from my grandsons, too.

    When it comes to birthdays, both of my grandsons were born in June, making it easy to honor both birthday boys in one visit. I miss out on the real birthday celebrations with their friends, but we mark the occasion some way, somehow, from a distance or otherwise.

    When I visit the desert, there's almost always a soccer or T-ball game or such of Bubby's that I have the privilege of attending. Once even included a school Halloween party. For those things I don't attend, texts from Megan with pictures of first days and parties and special events suffice. Questions to Bubby on how his games or school functions turned out come up in many FaceTime conversations — when Mac lets him hold the phone, that is.

    In addition to the techy connections with my grandsons, I send snail mail packages, too. Toys, DVDs, books I've reviewed and more, as often as I remember, as much as my budget allows. Sometimes just a postcard or envelopes with coloring pages or stickers are enough to please, enough to let my grandsons know I'm thinking of them.

    For the most part, that is what being a grandma looks in my world. Being long distance isn't great, but being a grandma is.

    And I'm content to take the title of grandma any way I can get it.

    Today's question:

    What does being a grandparent look like in your world?

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    Reader Comments (8)

    I wish your near-by girls would get married and have grandchildren for you to spend time with but, then, that would not replace the boys but it would give you some kids to spend Gramma time with.

    That will probably happen eventually and, knowing you, you'll probably worry that Bubby and Mac will be jealous. With grandkids, there's always something to worry about.

    Have a good day and know you can handle anything!

    December 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    It takes a lot of work to keep up with your grandchildren but it sounds like you have a workable system going. They will definitely grow up knowing their grandma, which is the most important thing. They are adorable!

    December 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl

    I loved reading about your grandma world, Lisa! You paint a very personal, loving and involved life......hard to believe you're not just around the corner! You are a ball of energy and enthusiasm which shows up daily; but your priorities are right on! Those adorable little guys come first for sure! Before you know it, they'll be old enough to call and text you.........and in my case...old enough to fly alone to come visit!
    Thanks for sharing!

    December 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoan stommen

    I wish you all lived closer to each other. Thank goodness for any technology that you can see and talk to them. Imagine what it was like before that technology.

    My heart aches for you when I hear you can't see them for awhile. I wish a had oodles of money, because some of it would go toward sending you to AZ on a regular basis! xoxo

    December 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

    You have set up a system that makes the best of a situation and keeps you close to those special little boys. They know who their grandmother is and that she loves them. I am fortunate that I live on a small family farm where my daughter and family live as well. This week I saw my two grandchildren every day. Sometimes during the winter it is more like once or twice a week. Grandmothers - they love their grandkids and relish every visit.

    December 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJudy@grandparentsplus2

    I do hope 2014 brings lots of opportunities for you to see the boys. That would be a wonderful Christmas wish! As for me, the view just keeps getting better!

    December 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    my life as a grandparent is full and exhausting. I'm keeping up with three very busy toddlers right now. I'm still reading your blog but I haven't had much time to make comments. The babies don't give me much free time these days. But I love it. Gotta go, he's climbing on the table!

    December 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkelley

    thanks for sharing this glance into your life as a grandma. i know you would enjoy seeing more of those two adorable boys, but it seems to me that you have established and maintained a strong and consistent relationship with them that will definitely "pay off." they know you, they love you and they know you love them and have made every effort to be involved in their lives. this is more than most long-distance grandparents accomplish and more than some that live in the same city.

    December 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda
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