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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
What does being a grandparent look like in your world?