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Finding being a long distance nanny so painful

(124 Posts)
hopefulnanny Tue 14-Aug-12 08:39:21

Hi all
I am new to Gransnet but have seen that lots of you are in the same boat as me. My darling first Grandson was born in March in Sydney where my daughter and her husband now live. They have been home with baby and are due to come back again for his first birthday next March. But it is so painful not being able to touch or cuddle him or to do stuff with my daughter. I know how happy they all are and I am happy for them too. But it feels so hard knowing they will probably never return to the Uk and we will have to get by on skype, texts and email in between their visits. We hope to get out there sometime but we have a wheelchair bound disabled son and planning long haul trips like this will certainly take some time and will depend on his health at the time. Some days it doesnt feel so bad. My daughters husbands parents are able to get out to see them once a year and that is lovely but sometimes I feel so sad that we cant do the same and I worry that we will not form a strong bond with out grandson. I want to be happy in my life but I am constantly having blue days over this . I miss them all so much. Does it get any easier ? [sad ]

absentgrana Tue 14-Aug-12 08:52:16

Hello hopeful Welcome to Gransnet, My daughter (only child) and grandchildren live in New Zealand. It is very hard being separated from family by such a great distance. As the children have got older, we can communicate directly with each other by e-mail, chatting on the phone and sending postcards and pictures. I send goody boxes with little things for the children – paperback books, an inflatable globe and other cheap and cheerful items (and light in weight) – which always arrive unexpectedly and are, I think, fun. My daughter has lots of photographs of us all over her house and talks quite a lot about Mr absent and me so that the children think of us as being part of their lives. This is not a perfect situation but the fact that we are love each other very much makes it tolerable. How much worse things must be for those grannies who have been rejected by their family – often for no logical reason – and who don't ever see their grandchildren although they may live within fairly easy travelling distance.

My daughter's life is so much better where she is than it would have been if she had stayed in the UK. When I feel sad or am desperately missing her and the children, I remember this and it rejoices my heart.

Butternut Tue 14-Aug-12 09:18:33

hopeful - I can only echo absent's sentiments, and am so sorry you feel sad.
My son and his family live in America, and I know they are all happy there. My eldest grandchild is autistic, and the special schooling and support he receives there is remarkable, and for that I am very thankful.

It took time for me to adjust to the change in circumstances, and I won't deny there is a depth of longing which stays with me, but I've found that embracing their happiness helps enormously. They bumble on in their lives, and so do I.

I hope you will find it gets better, and on those blue days, GN is always here.

Mamie Tue 14-Aug-12 09:47:29

Hugs from me too, hopefulnanny. I think it does get a bit easier as the children get holder and can communicate via Skype. Like Butternut, I have an autistic grandson and find it very hard not to be there in person to help. I have just had a wonderful two weeks with my grandaughters from the UK (we all live in different countries, by the way) and saying goodbye is very hard.

Gally Tue 14-Aug-12 10:26:23

Hopeful welcome to GN. you will find out that there are lots of us who have our grandchildren far away. I am writing this from Sydney where I am staying for 2 months with DD2 and her family - her 4th baby is 2 weeks old. Yes it is difficult for us grandparents, but as Absent says be happy for them - it's their new life and what they have chosen to do and hopefully they are having a better more fulfilled life. I find it very difficult being here 24/7 for 2 months and then, boom, back to reality and contact only by skype and phone, and yes, they treat me differently from their Oz grandparents who they see all the time - it's just a fact of life and I am becoming used to it. A lot has been said about this subject on GN so I won't repeat myself ad infinitum, but putting their lives and yours in little boxes does help; sad

yogagran Tue 14-Aug-12 11:41:35

Firstly I'd like to say welcome to hopefulnanny and you'll find lots of support on GN from others in your situation
I like Gally 's idea of "little boxes", that makes a lot of sense to me. We bring our children up to be independent and are often surprised when they decide that they need to strike out on their own but we should be pleased for them that they have the confidence to do just that.
My DS, partner & DGD now live in Canada and I found it very difficult to cope with their decision but it does get easier as time goes on - really. I'm fortunate in that I get to travel to see them a couple of times a year. It's the "goodbyes" that are the most painful to me sad

hopefulnanny Thu 16-Aug-12 18:33:53

Thank you all so much for your warm welcomes and your words of advice. It helps knowing that I am not alone in this and that you all understand how painful it is. On some days I can see so clearly that it will all be fine but other days I am overwhelmed with sadness. But I shall try to look for the positives and make plans for their return in March. We are hiring a hall and having a big party for friends and family to celebrate our DGS first bday. So that will be lovely. Skype is amazing but I miss them all so much. They do have a wonderful life in Sydney and I cant imagine they would have the same quality of life here so I want them to do what is right for them and the family . I think if i knew we could get out there every year it would make life easier but I am not sure that will ever be the case but we shall see. I am sure once our grandson gets older we will be able to communicate lots. I will def send lots of bits and bobs out so that he knows we are thinking of him and love him lots.
Thanks again to all of you. You have made me feel alot brighter and Gransnet is my new best friend!!! smile

Nonu Thu 16-Aug-12 19:02:33

Welcome Hopefullnany , enjoy whatever time you spend on Gransnet

moomin Thu 16-Aug-12 19:37:43

Yes, welcome Hopeful! I have 3 DC, 2DS and 1DD. My DD moved with her lovely husband and 4 month old baby to New Zealand almost 6 years ago. Although she was keen to make the move, my DD was adamant that I should be happy for them to disappear to the other side of the world, otherwise she couldn't imagine going. I knew that the life out there would suit them down to the ground, the quality of their work and family life was going to improve and be so much better that I couldn't hesitate but to say "yes of course you must go" but at the same time weeping to myself inside.

My feeling was (and still is) that I have brought up my family and now it is their turn to do the best for their families without any pressure from me. They have settled well out there and now have another daughter, now aged 4 years, who was born out there. They all have NZ citizinship which means should they want to move to Oz and work there, they can.

I am lucky in that I go out to visit usually once every 12 months for 6 weeks. I had to make an emergency dash when DGC No. 2 was born as she had problems at birth which necessitated an emergency op and DD was desperate for "her mum" to be with her and give support. That was tough, being so far away when she needed me so badly.

We talk and/or Skype every week and it doesn't feel quite the 12,000 miles apart that it is. But, it is difficult - as Gally says, a long visit of 6 or 8 weeks makes it all the more harder to say goodbye until the next time.

DD and girls are coming back to the UK for Xmas and are spending 2 weeks with me before meeting up with DSiL down in Oxford to spend time with his parents. I am so looking forward to it, but dreading (already) the inevitable parting.

absentgrana Fri 17-Aug-12 10:35:20

A huge geographical separation is such a difficult situation. Absentdaughter rang me yesterday. Having popped a disc in her back on Tuesday when bending down to lift up Finn (nearly 5 months and a whopper from birth), she then walked into a piece of furniture on Thursday and broke her toe. Her husband cannot take any time off work at the moment and there are four other children to look after. She wants her mum and I so wish I could be there to help. sad

Butternut Fri 17-Aug-12 10:54:18

Oh absent, that's when it just gets bloody miserable being so far

glammanana Fri 17-Aug-12 11:08:31

Oh absent ((hugs))

grannyactivist Fri 17-Aug-12 11:15:29

Hello Hopeful and a great big welcome from me too. I have one daughter in NZ and we're still learning to manage our contacts on Skype as she and her husband have only been living there for a few months. They're both busy, as am I, so trying to plan contact hasn't been easy, but we're getting into a sort of rhythm now. I have one grandson close by and am very lucky to see him often (he's actually staying with me for a week at the moment), but also have three other grandchildren that I haven't seen for many years - in fact I've never met my youngest granddaughter who was five last month. sad
When you're a bit down there's no better place to find a bit of support than on here. There are lots of lovely people to bring a bit of sunshine into the day.

Butternut Fri 17-Aug-12 12:52:19

And here's some sunshine for you, ga.

Greatnan Fri 17-Aug-12 15:01:43

I said goodbye to half my family on Wednesday - they are in the UK for my grandson's wedding last Saturday and they go back to NZ next week. My daughter , oddly enough, is in the same position vis a vis her own grandchildren and she is not sure her daughter-in-law fully accepts their decision to emigrate. They moved to NZ two years ago and this was their first trip back. She speaks to her grand-daughters on Skype every week and is in constant tough by Facebook and e-mail and her free phone calls. It is particularly hard for my son-in-law as his mother has dementia and now does not remember her grandchildren and is not able to use Skype.
I also spend about six weeks a year with them but her youngest children are now 13 and 14 so there is no question of their forgetting me. I was very pleased to find that my great-grand-daughters remembered me as I have lived in France for most of their lives. It was so good to feel a little hand in mine once again!
I am yet another mother who has been cut off by her daughter and it was odd to find myself ony a few hundred yards away when I visited her sister in the holiday home they are renting and not be able to see her. That is far more painful than my loving situation with her sister - emotional separation is far worse than geographical separation.
I encouraged my daughter and her husband to emigrate and they are all very happy in NZ but she is going to find it hard to say goodbye to the three adult children who have stayed in the UK. I think it is quite probable that one or more of them will be joining her in NZ in the future, given the terrible employment situation in the UK. She and her husband had planned to visit the UK every two years but now she thinks it will have to be every year The current visit has cost them many thousands of pounds, with flights for four of them, a month's rental and a month's car hire. She has not had to work in NZ up to now,but she says she will find a part-time job to fund an annual trip. (She is highly qualified and experienced in Drug/Alcohol treatment and was offered a job when they first went out).
It does get easier, and knowing your family are happy and successful, wherever they are in the world, helps you to bear the pain.

nanasam Fri 17-Aug-12 15:12:43

My son also lives in Sydney with his partner, who is an Aussie, and it looks as if they may be getting married some time (about time, too, as he's 39!).
I have a very close relationship with my DD, SIL and 2 gorgeous GSs and am dreading DS starting a family as we won't be able to visit and I'm a hands on nana. It'll break my heart to be so far away, I know I'd feel just like you, hopeful.
So am I being totally unreasonable to think that I don't mind if he doesn't have kids? Is that an awful, selfish thing to say?

Butternut Fri 17-Aug-12 15:29:37

On the 'techi' side of being long distance grans, you might find it useful to know that as well as skype I use Google+ which has a 'hangout' option. When I just need to say a quick hello and to see the kids, I use this as it goes straight to my son's phone which is always on. (It's free, like skype). I see the messy kitchen, the kids all ruffed up just out of bed, the diy bits and bobs, and it gives me great pleasure to just say 'Good morning'! No long chats necessarily, just that , a blown kiss or two and it's enough. Today I needed that.

greatnan - You so right about emotional separation being far worse than geographical separation. (For me it's siblings, not children)

BlueSky Sat 18-Aug-12 13:11:28

I have a GS in Australia too and I didn't realise how many other grandparents are in the same predicament. Good to read other people's experiences and how they cope with the geographical separation. Admittedly it is easier nowadays thanks to modern technology but some days it's harder than others, so pleased to know I can come here for support. sunshine

Butternut Sat 18-Aug-12 13:20:17

BlueSky - I'm pleased you're pleased.

JO4 Sat 18-Aug-12 13:31:38

And I'm really pleased that you're pleased Butternut.

Anyone else? smile

Nonu Sat 18-Aug-12 13:40:51

Don"t forget me blush

Butternut Sat 18-Aug-12 17:24:44

Not forgotten, Nonu smile

Thanks, J!

Nine Sat 18-Aug-12 18:59:42

Oh how I empathise with all the heartfelt longings expressed so far. On the upside - it does make the time spent face to face with DGC very very special. Whilst I am visiting I am allowed to 'spoil' them quite dreadfully thanks to DDIL.

One of the things that we do now that the GC are older (8 and 6) is that we share a special stone and each time we meet, we hand it over for the other to keep - every time they handle Granny's stone they think of me and vice versa. I always ask on he phone if they have 'our' stone safe!

Butternut Sun 19-Aug-12 10:27:51

Hello Nine - I like the idea of the stone - is it a different stone every time you visit?
I think my grandkids are a bit young for that yet, and as I fly to see them, it would have to be a very lightweight stone! wink

absentgrana Sun 19-Aug-12 11:02:26

Nine How curious. My elder granddaughter was given a "magic rock"by her other grandmother who also lives in New Zealand. The day I was leaving after a six week visit earlier this year, the children all hugged and kissed me goodbye before piling into the car for their mother to drive them to school and pre-school. All of a sudden, my eldest grandson came running back into the house, thrust the magic rock into my hand and said, "C wants you to have this". I have kept it safe and promised her that it will find its way back to her – just as I shall.