Grandparenting is a gift, and a skill. Yes, a skill. Sure, by being a biological or chosen antecedent of a little human being, you have the honor of being a grandparent. I’m talking about being more than just a marker on a family tree. It’s important for us to also be involved, connected and an active part of our grandchildren’s lives. With that in mind, it takes skill.
My grandmother Morris definitely had that skill. She was truly a magical being. An angel that walked the earth. We lived about 120 miles apart in Northeast Texas. We didn’t get to see each other every day, but I felt connected to her at all times, that was her skill.
This was the 1970’s until she passed at the age of 95, in 2004. She would come to our house for all major holidays, even if she had to ride a Greyhound bus (she never had a drivers license). Most of the time we would go pick her up, especially in her later years. Every summer, my brother and I would go to her house in Dallas, for several weeks.
In between holidays, she and I would write letters and talk on the phone. Back then, there was no FaceTime, email, texting, etc. She was still working full-time during my younger years. My grandfather had passed away the year I was born. She immersed herself into being a grandmother, and her job as a cafeteria lady, to help with her mourning. She was quite tenacious. A strong women with a heart of gold and an unmarred work ethic. Though she was well into her 60’s and 70’s, she walked to work, managed her home and was a phenomenal grandmother that never missed a beat! Every birthday, holiday, life event or “just because”, she was on it! She would either be there or acknowledge the event with cards, letters or a phone call. That was truly a skill!
Of course, I had 4 biological grandparents. I never knew my grandfather (her husband) but through family stories, he was also a fantastic grandfather. My maternal grandparents were never really involved in my life. I knew them, I saw them, but they did not possess that skill.
Now that I am a grandmother myself, I can truly appreciate the effort my grandmother Morris put into being a grandparent! She had 11 grandchildren. I only have 2 grandchildren currently, so for now, it’s pretty easy. For those of you who have several and are possibly gaining great-grands now, I’m sure it’s a task to be managed almost on a professional level.
I try daily to be part of my grandchildren’s lives. We haven’t lived in the same city for most of the time. Currently, they travel with their dad’s job and we are on opposite coasts. I had the privilege of them living with us for several months before their current assignment. That was truly wonderful! I’ve definitely learned to savor the moments together and make the best of the moments we’re apart.
As grandparents, I know most of you did not grow up with the modern technology we have today. I speak from experience, it makes grandparenting from afar so much easier! Before they left my house, my husband (grandpa James) and I bought them Ipads. I have to say, that was one of the best gifts we could have ever given them! Of course, they thought so, because they’re 9 and 11, getting an Ipad. My daughter, their mom, installed all of the “safe”, kid-friendly, parent-monitored, apps to communicate with family only on their Ipads, I love this. I can’t tell you how much it brightens my day when I receive a cute message, picture, drawing, or gif from my grandchildren! It’s the same joy I would feel when I checked the mail and received a letter from my grandmother. I can FaceTime with them, send quick messages or pictures. We sometimes like to just send goofy filter pictures or silly gifs. No real message, just connecting and laughing together. It’s a beautiful thing. My grandchildren know, without a shadow of a doubt, their Nana is here for them. Always. Not only through actual visits and technology, but I also love to send them small physical reminders. Birthdays I may not be able to attend, holidays of all types, I make sure I send something, even if it’s small, just to let them know I’m thinking of them. Valentines candy, a box of treats and plastic spiders for Halloween…get creative. Personalize these small gifts. If your grandchild loves llamas, dinosaurs, otters, unicorns, art, reading, sports or paintball, incorporate something personal of their interests or something you like to do together. Send a surprise of a joke! Dig deep inside yourself to remember that fun, child-like humor that still exists in all of us! They will appreciate it and be able to relate to you as a grandparent, that was once a child also. Don’t be afraid to be silly, goofy or downright ridiculous! It’s a great way to connect. They have plenty of serious adults in their lives, (which you can be if needed) but be that goofy grandparent also. It’s good for all of you!