Long-distance grandparenting: Eight ways it gets easier as grandkids get older

I've been a long-distance grandma from the moment I became a grandma at all. So I have no idea what it's like to have my grandsons nearby. I know only what it's like to have them living more than 800 miles away, to miss them far more often than not.

I do know, though, that it's getting easier to be a long-distance grandma. Partially because I've just accepted that my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons won't be moving any closer any time soon, if ever. More so, though, it's because my oldest grandson is getting older, and my youngest grandson is not far behind him.

With no more baby grandchildren right now, I do miss the idea of not having a little baby to hold in my arms. Thing is, with the distance between us, it always was more of exactly that—an idea, for the reality was that I was able to hold my grandbabies in my arms so rarely.

Now that my grandsons are getting older, though, my long-distance grandparenting is getting easier, for several reasons.

Older grandkids ... remember you. With the little ones, the first few minutes of contact, whether on the phone, Skype, or in person, are spent saying, "Hey, baby! It's Gramma! Remember Gramma?!" That's no longer required, thankfully. They remember me.

Older grandkids ... pay attention and actually converse with you. On Skype, via FaceTime (if you're fortunate enough to have it), and in person (when you're really fortunate). At least for a few minutes.

Older grandkids ... get it—and appreciate it, look forward to it—when you send them letters, packages, cards, mail of any sort.

Older grandkids ... can and often do send mail back.

Older grandkids ... can say, "Mom I want to talk to Gramma" when you're on the phone with their mother. And when handed the phone, they talk, not just press buttons and unintentionally hang up on you.

Older grandkids ... will eventually have their own phone to call Gramma unassisted by Mom or Dad.

Older grandkids ... also will eventually—sooner than I think, I'm sure—be able to travel unaccompanied for special solo stays at Gramma's. (If, that is, Gramma and Mommy are brave enough to allow such unaccompanied travel.)

Older grandkids ... hug you back. Reciprocal hugs last far longer in one's memory than one-sided hugs. In Gramma's memory and in theirs.

I remember cradling my grandsons in my arms when they were babies, rocking them and snuggling their delicious little heads into my neck as I held their blanket-bundled bodies close to my heart. I delighted in that when I had the honor of being with them, missed it beyond compare when without them.

Those moments of physically holding my baby grandsons close to my heart were too few and too far between. Now that they're older, the physical moments together are still too few and too far between, yet the non-physical methods of holding my big-boy grandsons close to my heart—and me to theirs—are, thankfully, increasing.

Which makes this long-distance grandparenting gig a wee bit easier to bear. It may not be my preferred grandparenting scenario, to be sure, but it works. For me. For us. For now.

Photos of the boys in their plaid shirts are by Alison Baum.

Today's question:

What delights you about the kids you love getting older?