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Coping with families a long way away

(21 Posts)
LittleJen Mon 25-May-15 08:25:14

I'm a newbie to the Forum, and was so relieved to read other stories about Grandparents whose grandchildren are the other side of the world. It's bad enough having 2 of my children in NZ, but not having much contact with grandchildren is not a lot of fun.
My late husband (was widowed nearly 3 years ago) was a Kiwi, but never wanted to return to the country of his birth. I have worked hard to try and make a new life for myself on my own, but the UK is where I live, and I do not care to give my kids the impression I am needy or finding things hard.
Why not live 6 months in NZ and 6 in the UK, say friends? Well, it wouldn't work. I'd end up not belonging anywhere.
Last year, I did travel to NZ to see oldest son's new baby. Yes, there is Skype and FaceTime etc but when son & d-in-law work hard & long hours, it's not always easy to find mutual times for conversation & filming.
I said Cheerio to my daughter at Heathrow on Saturday. (Probably why I feel a bit sorry for myself now.) She is expecting their first child in November.
I am lucky to have a son in London, but I just wish my friends knew how hard it is to smile & seem interested when they rabbit on about their grandchildren's tea parties, first steps or outings. It hurts. It's not my friends' fault that they have no idea since i've learnt they have no idea about widowhood either.
Don't want your pity or anything like that, just needed to get out some of my feelings so I can get on with my day.
Thanks for listening or reading!

Stansgran Mon 25-May-15 09:36:04

Lots of empathy on here. I have to grit my teeth when my friend's son or daughter flies up for the weekend to help with household odds and ends! I tell myself that they are much older and it will be my turn one day.

Jane10 Mon 25-May-15 09:43:07

That's such a difficult situation for you. This is just the place to offload your feelings. What a pity your more 'local' friends don't really seem to understand. Anyway -welcome.

sarah12345 Mon 25-May-15 20:13:43

I completely understand. My son is saving hard to go back to NZ and live there permanently. I think it is a wonderful country and I want him to be happy but I missed him very much when he was away previously and dread him going for good this time. I too feel no one understand s how i feel. Its hard being a mum sometimes..Facebook is better than nothing but it is just not the same.

seasider Mon 25-May-15 22:06:30

A close friend's daughter has been working in Australia and it looks like it will be permanent. She is devastated but appreciates she brought her children up to love travel and be adventurous. She Skypes two or three times a week and saves for visits. When they retire they are going to Australia for six months. She also buys little gifts she thinks her daughter would like and posts them, in fact anything she can to maintain their close bond. She says they probably chat more than they did when she was home as they make time for it.
She does appreciate it will be harder when children come along but will do her best to be involved at a distance. I heard of someone who reads bedtime stories over Skype!

LittleJen Tue 26-May-15 06:53:12

Thank you all for your sympathetic replies and for the positive suggestions, too.
I guess we all have those 'down' times, when it is harder to just get on with life and stop moaning about our lot. I try hard to remind myself how very lucky I am. I suspect many of the things I find harder are because I am now facing everything without my best friend at my side, but of course, I cannot change that.
I do try to remind myself that when I was in my 30s, I saw my own parents maybe every 3/4 weeks. I did not want them on my doorstep and I suspect the reverse was also true. If there was a crisis or illness, it was possible to be together in 2/3 hours, however.
A lot of the time, because my kids and I don't want to worry each other, we put on a brave front, but we are all fairly sensitive to what is not said. What threw me on this visit from my daughter was her confession that she is really not happy in NZ and wished she didn't have to go back, tho' I know she and her husband are very happy together. NZ is indeed a beautiful country, but I wouldn't live there and everything my daughter said I agreed with, though I didn't tell her that directly. I tried to be the sympathetic listener. She and her partner have to work this out themselves.
Today is a new day, however, and I wish you all a good and happy day. All will be well.

Pippa000 Tue 26-May-15 10:28:34

I do sympathise LittleJen. We decided to move to Cyprus 10 years ago, DS & then partner did not seem to have any intention of having children, however within three years of moving two children arrived. It has been very hard for me particularly, especially as DiL asked me to help then when both were born in preference to her mother. However we do have a 'granny' annex in DS new house and now divide times between the two countries, not the ideal solution. but Skype helps. However last night three year old GS asked us 'when are you coming home?', that nearly broke my heart, as we have only been back a week. Still not long till July.

grannyactivist Tue 26-May-15 10:29:32

Hello LittleJen and welcome to Gransnet.
I have a daughter in NZ and although I missed her when she and her husband emigrated I made the best of it. Recently and unexpectedly (they always said they wouldn't have children) they've had a daughter who was born at 27 weeks and is very ill. Now I really want them to come home so that they have the support of the family in raising their little girl, but not a word of that will pass my lips. My daughter knows me well, she doesn't need me to spell out that I'd like them home - and she also knows that I'll be there (here!) for them no matter what.
My daughter and her family must choose their own path in life and I just have to deal with the way things are and not as I would like them to be. Happily my friends are very supportive and shore me up when I'm finding it especially hard - which at the moment is every day.
I hope now that you've got your feelings off your chest you can enjoy the rest of the day. flowers

AshTree Tue 26-May-15 10:31:12

I'm not in your position LittleJ, but I have such sympathy for you. It's when I read on here of grandparents separated by thousands of miles from their DC and DGC (and there are many!), that I appreciate so very much that my DC are close. And it's a huge reminder to me never to mind when asked to babysit.

Many years ago I came across a poignant little saying: "I taught them to fly .... and then they flew"

I feel for you, and I'm glad you've found GN to share your feelings with flowers

daffydil Tue 26-May-15 12:01:23

ÀshTree I have just read that little saying on your post and felt the tears well up. In a few words there is so much sadness. Like you I will appreciate even more that my GC and now my great GS live in the same town. My thoughts are with LittleJ flowers

ffinnochio Tue 26-May-15 13:29:11

Some days are not so easy, when one has grandchildren living many miles away in other countries, but I don't feel sad about this. Wistful? Yes at times. Instead I embrace the different cultures and circumstances. I chatter on about my grandkids to my friends, due in no small part to the regular chat and photos I receive from their parents about their lives, and the insight of my friends to be curious and interested in them. As is well, and it is this that I value.

LittleJen I hope you will find things easier in the future. flowers

ffinnochio Tue 26-May-15 13:30:17

All is well.....

ffinnochio Tue 26-May-15 13:31:52

Adopting a pragmatic attitude goes a long way!

Mamie Tue 26-May-15 13:44:05

I do think it gets easier as they get older. When they are tiny they don't really remember you if there is a long period between visits, but when they are older and can Skype it is much better. I don't feel that my relationship with them misses a beat between visits now and with the older ones I now Skype and email independently. I have two in the UK that I see every couple of months (we are in France) and two in Spain that I see once a year. It is a sadness that we have only seen them once all together, but fingers crossed for this summer!

ffinnochio Tue 26-May-15 14:51:50

Crossed fingers for you, too, Mamie

TriciaF Tue 26-May-15 17:56:35

Sometimes I yearn for the extended family life I had in my childhood.
We lived with maternal GPs for about 4 years, and Dad's parents were just around the corner. Both had family meals at least once a week when everyone came. But not many families are like that now.
Ours are scattered - one in India, one in Kuwait 2 in the UK. We're in France.
As Ashtree says, we taught them to fly, and that was always one of my priorities, to make them independent.
We see them when we can , at their home or ours, but it's getting less as we grow older. We have Skype , and lots of photos.
But like you, Little Jen, I often feel lonely, even though husband is still here TG.

hespian Tue 26-May-15 20:18:08

I understand completely how you feel LittleJen. I have a son (married to an Australian girl) and a daughter ( with a serious Australian boyfriend) living in Australia. My son and DiL have a one year old and are expecting twins very soon. We miss them all enormously and haven't seen them for 18 months. It is 5 years ago this week since our son emigrated and I find it gets more and more difficult rather than easier. Feeling particularly sad this week as my dear MiL passed away and we would love to have our family around us. Also very down as our only other child is having serious marriage problems and I think it will result in the break up of his beautiful family. Unfortunately he is the guilty party which makes things worse for us as his dear wife has no family of her own, only us. Really questioning where we have gone wrong at the moment.

loopylou Tue 26-May-15 20:25:25

You haven't gone wrong, as others have said, 'we taught them to fly and set them free' hespian but it remains so difficult when they fly far away and then have troubles we want to resolve.

Luckily our children are in the UK, so I can't imagine what it's like when they're thousands of miles away. The fact that they felt confident to live abroad reflects on what a brilliant job you did, a bit of a double-edged sword I guess.

jenn Tue 26-May-15 20:46:16

My son emigrated to Poland for a better future( he always went against trends!).The recession meant he couldn'd find work here and his Polish wife suggested going home as she had family support there.I was so upset as my grandson was only 2 and I felt that I would be forgotten and it would be his other Gran who he would run to.
In a way I was right,his first language is Polish and his other baba's house is his second home but he's 7 now and this year for the first time I am taking him away for a week.
My son is bringing him to England and he is housesitting whilst We go to Spain.We do see each other 5/6 times a year and speak on facetime often but it will be the first time away without his parents and for a week he will be only using his English!!
Wish me well...

LittleJen Wed 27-May-15 07:45:26

Thank you again for all your kind comments and encouragement.
I am giving myself a jolly good kick up the backside & back to getting on with stuff.
Recently, I had a chat with someone who was distraught & trying hard to boost his partner after the loss of a much longed for and wanted baby early in pregnancy. This was their last chance. And I thought how lucky I am to have had my kids, and that is the important thing. Wherever they are in the world, they are my children & they have brought me so much joy over the years, and continue to do so.
And as one or two of you pointed out, there are ways round most things, even grannying from long distance.
My D in NZ remarked how lucky she had been to have 2 such loving Grannies. Sadly neither of them is alive now, but I think of them, too, and the example they set. They just oozed love for all their GC. Guess that is the answer. Just open your heart and love your kids and grandkids, and learn to keep your counsel. (That last one is a challenge at times, as we all know! After all, what would we know?!!!!)
Another happy day to you all. And thank you.

ffinnochio Wed 27-May-15 07:51:22

LittleJen smile