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Long-distance grannies: keeping in touch

(39 Posts)
indigo Sun 12-Jun-11 14:42:00

There's the webcam of course but I don't have one yet.Mine are in this country so I see them every six weeks or so. In the meantime, after each visit I write a letter to them, plus photos, and post it on my blog. They're too small to read them now but one day they might!

golfina Sat 25-Jun-11 07:14:50

I am the long-distance granny of two-year-old Dylan in New Zealand and I'd like to talk about this and hear from others in a similar position. We are exceptionally lucky in being able to visit twice a year, but the regular means of communication is via skype. We skype on camera on a more or less weekly basis and this is becoming a richer experience as Dylan gets used to it and now says 'Want to skype granny grandad' (sometimes when he wakes from his afternoon nap and can't quite understand why we are asleep at the time!) We watch him get up in the morning, have his breakfast, construct a marble run, and we show him pictures, sing, tell jokes. We showed him, on skype, a lovely picture from the Guardian (10 baby owls) and then sent it through the post and our son-in-law sent us a photo of him rushing around with it in his hand calling out 'granny grandad'! When we visit though there are lots of changes we haven't seen and we have to tread quite carefully. I'd love to hear from others about their experience and especially how they have managed to build up a good bond and be real grandparents to their distant grandchildren

Faye Sat 25-Jun-11 08:29:16

I think the thing is that if you are spending time staying with them or they stay with you, you get more intense time that way, instead of visiting for a few hours every week. I have five grandchildren, three grandsons who live interstate, my five and three year old grandsons live 2,000ks away and my other three year old grandson lives 5 hours drive away. I also have two granddaughters six and three that I look after three days a week. They all used to live close to me and I felt really sad when all the boys moved away two years ago. I see them as much as I can and in May I spent a month with the two boys staying at their house. While I was staying both the two boys asked me to stay with them and not to go home. I will spend two weeks in July with my other grandson and he asked me recently on the phone to come home. He seems to miss me the most and last time they were about to take the five hour bus trip to visit he had his backpack on early one morning and he told his mum to hurry as they had to catch the bus to see Grandma, he was two days too early though. When it is getting close for me to leave whoever I am with, the girls or the boys I start to feel that sad feeling that I am going to really miss them and I do. What I find sad is that they all get on really well together too and they also miss each other. It took ages for the oldest to get past not seeing the cousin who is a year younger, when he moved away when she was only four as they were very close. They are very sweet when they all give each other hugs when they do get to see each other.

golfina Mon 27-Jun-11 21:42:56

Thank you Faye, that sadness is quite hard, I sit at Wellington airport barely able to speak for the lump in my throat and it gets harder as we know him better. I guess when he get older it may be hard for him too and so the time in between and the other contacts, by skype and otherwise, become even more important.

nanaval Sat 02-Jul-11 13:25:08

I only get to see my grandchildren, age 8 and 6, every three months or so because of the distance. I found that having local friends with children the same age has been a great help in keeping me up to date with the interests of that particular age group,as they are changing and developing new interests all the time.

JessM Sat 02-Jul-11 13:53:26

Hi golfina
My son and his two (3 and 6) are in Sydney and the other son is near Wellington. The one in Wellington has also been very ill. I think i posted on another similar thread about that airport scenario where you don't want to make a fuss and fall apart...
I was leaving Wellington once when the Sevens were about to start and a group of teenagers were singing for the Samoan team, who were just arriving. That was tough - I a filling up thinking about it.
My skype life has improved since getting fibre optic broadband (took BT 2 months to get the order fulfilled) - it is still not perfect but last night i could see both GKds really clearly. Not the same as having a squeeze though!
I agree re the "intense bursts" thing but there is still the feeling that they are growing up so fast.
Life keeps throwing up things we have to be brave about.
I send emails and photos of things i have been doing - like the baby frogs in my garden - and sometimes get one back from the 6 year old.
Oh - get puppets for skyping little ones. There are some great ones around.

JessM Tue 19-Jul-11 14:01:45

Yogagran come and talk to us here about far away grandchildren

yogagran Tue 19-Jul-11 20:07:24

I am just learning to cope with DS, partner and 3 year old GD having moved to Canada. I know it's not that far away compared to the situation of some Gransnetters but it's really tough and I miss them dreadfully.
Motherhood, it seems to me, never ends. We give birth to these children, thirty, forty years ago: long enough, you'd think, for you to be able to stop worrying about them. But no. They still do things, completely out of the blue, to disrupt your life, to surprise you, to make you anxious.

On the other hand, my mum, forty years ago, had to cope with her son, my brother, going to live in Canada. She had to face far worse communications than we have now, we even had to book transatlantic phone calls, there was obviously no Skype and we used to send voice cassettes with family news. To exchange photos we had to take them somewhere to get them printed and then post them, no Facebook or instant emailing of pictures. If she wanted to visit - the flights were much more expensive and she seemed much more frail than grandparents are now. So I shouldn't be complaining, I should count my blessings, perhaps they will have a better life style - I just hope it works out for them

JessM Thu 28-Jul-11 16:29:11

Oh hi there Yogagran Sorry did not pick this up, I was away for a few days.
Mine have been gone 3 years. Some days i am fine and don't think about them. Like Gally said somewhere about her Australian GCs, in a box. But it is a lurking pain isn't it, however strong you are on a day to day basis. The next door neighbours are having a toddler tea party this afternoon and it hurts to hear children's voices. You are so right about motherhood. The threads that bind etc.
Not helped by the fact that my DS always seems to find life a challenge. It is difficult migrating at the best of times, but doubly so with a young family and no support around.
I might be going to see mine in October (the next school holidays) but I am not sure yet whether this is going to be possible, so i feel in limbo, unable to plan to do other things.
My gran had 2 sons. One, my father, died at 34 and 2 years later his brother emigrated with his toddlers to the other side of Canada. This was the mid 1950s and she didnt even have a phone. So I remind myself how brave she had to be.
Toddler noise seems to be abating, so maybe I will go and get a bit of sunshine!

GrannyTunnocks Thu 28-Jul-11 18:08:47

My daughter and family live in Switzerland and have been visiting us for almost 3 weeks. My grandchildren just love coming to visit us and we are so close to them. We took then away for a few days holiday and we all had a great time. We go to visit them next weekend for another 3 weeks but the hard thing will be laving them as we don't know when we will see them next. Often we have the next visit scheduled before we leave but we have other things on so will have to wait and see.

Seagran Thu 28-Jul-11 19:31:34

Hi there all long distance Grans!
Yes it's hard missing the early years. I get back to UK for 3-4 precious months of the year. So I make the most of it like every one else. to keep up the continuity of contact I make a point of sending individual post cards from where ever I am to my three grNdchildren. My daughter is very good at encouraging them to stick them in a scrap book. When we can we do Skype them, but it is not always that easy from New Zealand. However communications are so much better than they were. I find it very funny that when I do get on line with them they are far more interested in looking at themselves on the wb cam than looking at me!
I treasure the time we are together but I don't make a big deal of it when I have to leave.

JessM Fri 29-Jul-11 18:16:14

Hi Seagran. Sometimes i get a bit fascinated in looking at myself on the webcam too!!!
Where in NZ are you? I have a son in Wellington region but I don't think i am in any hopes of having any NZ grandchildren as he says he does not want any, and in any case he had a load of chemo so may not be able to. I think NZ is a nice place for kids to grow up. Less commercialised than UK.
I am currently waiting to know whether or not I am invited to visit my DS1 and grandchildren in Sydney this autumn... Apart from the distance i find it very disruptive to any other plans. And it means that me and DH have not had a holiday together for nearly 3 years. (but we are going to ireland in Aug)
The good news is that my lovely NZ son will be here in my house all next week.

Speldnan Fri 29-Jul-11 21:21:44

Hi long distance grannies-I have just got my first grandchild and she and her parents (my son and his wife) are in the UK at the moment with the baby who is 6 weeks old. They live in Wellington NZ and I won't see them again for a year at least. I have had a wonderful week with them staying near me-getting to know the baby and being reminded of what a nightmare it is in those first few weeks-so different though from when i had my two.
I wonder if I am the only mother and grandmother who can't help feeling angry that I have been left by my family. My son and I were so close and it broke my heart when he went off and now the baby!! it is so hurtful that they would rather be abroad than near to me! I don't show this feeling to them but I cant deny it-does any one else feel like this?
My son is the worlds worse communicator and though we do occasionally speak on skype he sometimes leaves it for weeks and weeks. I am afraid that I won't see my granddaughter growing up-I can't go over there at the moment because of my job and committments in the UK so should I just forget about them and let them contact me if they want to? it might be easier-what do people think?
I love them all so much but I have my life to lead and don't want to get hurt

yogagran Fri 29-Jul-11 23:06:42

Oh dear, how I feel for you Speldnan. It's so hard when your children go their own way. I really feel that it's harder being a mother to adults than it is being a mother to toddlers, we just don't have the control that we had when they were younger and they still do things that we don't feel is in their best interests.
No - don't forget about them, I'm afraid that it's down to us to keep the communication channels open. Phone, email with lots of photos, Skype and good old-fashioned post.
It has helped me knowing that there are quite a few of us here with children abroad - you're not alone

JessM Sat 30-Jul-11 23:03:24

It is a right royal pain in the backside altogether. Sad, painful, frustrating, expensive and inconvenient. Just occasionally I get fed up with being blooming brave.
Wellington a great place to visit though, when you can get there. Even if it is as far as they could possibly go, apart from Invercargill!

Speldnan Mon 01-Aug-11 15:46:28

thanks for the words of support-JessM I agree about being fed up with being brave!! Have just said goodbye to them today after a great week of their visit with me-I only cried once!. I have some great memories and photos and my baby granddaughter smiled right at me today when we were parting. I am off on holiday with my partner and shall try to be brave and concentrate on him.
Wellington! maybe one day! and Yogagran you are so right about being a mother to adults-it's especially hard I think if you are no longer with the father or your children as you don't have anyone to share the feelings with.

Seagran Mon 01-Aug-11 17:54:39

Hi JessM, we are north of Auckland - I do love New Zealand, it's not known as Godszone for nothing! Wellington is very windy and wet - I do sympathize with everyone everyone who is not living in the same country as their children and - and rapidly growing GC. It is also hard no longer being the matrix, the centre of the family and yes it is hard to let go. I know it sounds harsh, but perhaps instead of feeling abandoned try feeling instead that you have brought up a successful and happy son or daughter that has the confidence to make the move to go overseas. An old aunty of mine once said to me, Mother, don;'t Smother!
It's a bit like those big family gatherings, Christmas for a starter. Once the children got married we had to get used to sharing them with the in-laws! Once they used to come to us, now we go to them but only every other year which is simply horrid. Christmas without the family is my real downtime. But of course you can't show it to all and sundry!

JessM Mon 01-Aug-11 19:15:25

MM not sure if feeling abandoned came into it for me. It was the loss of contact with GD and GS. A kind of loss that continues as they evolve into new versions of themselves as months pass.
Yes I think you are right that the majority of grandmothers would like to carry on being central to the lives of their kids and whether or not they emigrate, suddenly we are not.
We need a set of "bravery" strategies for low days and moments. There are so many sad posts on this forum at the moment, it reminds us to count our blessings.

Speldnan Tue 02-Aug-11 16:25:19

You are so right Seagran that we should feel proud that we have brought up happy and successful children. In fact I really did feel after my son's visit that I must relinquish him to a degree as he really belongs more to his wife and family than he does to me. In fact he said to me 'they need me more than you do now Mum' and he is so right! Also his father and I lived abroad and took our young children with us and away from their grandparents for four years so can't really complain when he does it too.
Yes bravery strategies is a good idea JessM-any suggestions?
Have only joined Gransnet this week and already it has helped me hearing form others in the same position as myself

JessM Tue 02-Aug-11 18:31:43

The one about my own Gran (see above) is a good one.
I'd say reading the thread about people who's kids refuse to speak to them might be another!

JessM Wed 03-Aug-11 08:50:37

I've been mulling on this overnight. It's about not feeling self pity I guess. So it's about what goes on inside your head. Thinking "its not fair" " poor me" just makes you feel bad. (And I'm sure we all have down days or hours).
I had a crash course in this when looking after my DS2 during arduous chemo. He only had a couple of down days in several months, including when the girlfriend finished with him...
He is not a buddhist but is that way inclined. So what helps?
Remember other people are a lot worse off - count your blessings - do things for others - focus on the moment - look after yourself and try to keep fit - work at avoiding negativity - try to keep busy.
I would not say I have achieve positive happiness, but on an even keel pretty much. What would help me if my life was busier/fuller than it is. But there is a plan.

JessM Fri 05-Aug-11 11:11:52

OMG - what am I like. Not on form right now I think...
I have been struggling to get a trip organised to see my family in S hemisphere plus a friend in Seattle who has been ill for ages and is now much better and visitable. As usual i will go alone as someone has to earn some money round here, and they are not his kids...
Having finally got my act together it turns out that I am arriving back the day my husband is planning to go to a college reunion (just a small group of friends). Total failure of communication on my part. I do find the process of doing this process of booking air travel strangely stressful and end up not communicating as well as I should. Even when i use the helpful people at Trailfinders. My (usually competent) brain freezes up.
He is not happy at the thought of me getting back and him not being here. Bless him, he is so kind and unresentful - he wants me to spend even more money now changing the flights!

yogagran Fri 05-Aug-11 23:03:12

Thanks JessM for your Wednesdays post - I keep reading it and love the way you sound so positive

Baggy Sat 06-Aug-11 09:25:47

jess, your partner sounds lovely! I also like you 'bravery' posts.

I have to admit, however, that MOG (my old git wink) and I agree that we simply expect our offspring to head off out of our daily orbit and do their own thing. I think we'd be more surprised if they didn't. Perhaps this is because we did just that — left home at a good distance behind, so to speak, and got on with life. We each stayed in contact with other family members and visited, wrote long letters, and so forth but, for the most part, we were entirely separate. I actually resented my mother's constant enquiries about the daily details of my life, especially as she didn't share hers! I felt it was rather an intrusion. She was never happy with what I wanted to tell her and often asked what I thought were quite impertinent questions, questions which, if I had asked them of her, would have caused outrage. I guess she still thinks of me as a child with her in authority whereas I don't feel that at all. I wouldn't dream of asking my own grown up daughters the kind of questions my mum used to ask. I would feel I was being selfish if I wanted my kids to consider my feelings about their life decisions. And yes, we all get along fine, if infrequently.

bluegran Sat 06-Aug-11 19:33:03

Hi Grannies,
I just want to say how happy I am after spending quality time in the UK with my granchildren, and for the 1st time ever, getting to know their own address. Their parents are divorced and I always met them before through their father (my son) , and their mothers address (whom they live with) was kept from me. I'll never know why, he's controlling but was out of the picture on this joyous occasion and they pleaded with their Mum to meet me, so it was arranged and great. Now they've been told to expect parcels in the post from me and we re on facebook too. We look forward to more of these visits.

A happy gran not so blue today!