I was snuggled between my two grandsons in the back seat while driving away from Glacier Park International Airport, and our oldest grandson, Cody, quit digging in the gift bag we had given him long enough to tap my shoulder and ask, “Why do you like me so much?” He said it with that “What’s-in-it-for-you?” tone.
This simple question caused tears to puddle in the corners of my eyes. How could I help him grasp the beautiful and fulfilling meaning of my God-given role as grandmother? Although they brought new purpose to my life, little Cody was clueless as to why he deserved to be the center of my attention. And I was clueless to explain how once he and his brother, Conner, were born, they had immediate and intimate access to my heart.
But not everything is always beautiful and fulfilling about being their grandmother. I didn’t know I would feel so empty-hearted and tearful when I became a long-distance grandmother. Thirty-six hours between us seems so unfair. While others’ grandkids are just across the street, mine are across the United States! Jealousy, resentment and disappointment are often difficult to shrug off.
I placed pictures around the house and in lockets around my neck, but nothing filled the void in my heart. At school programs sometimes, others’ grandkids are up front singing a song, and their grandparents beam with pride. But no little eyes search the audience looking for me. When with my friend, her grandchild’s little fingers reach to find Gramma’s; I have no warm little hand to hold in mine.
Maybe you also suffer as a long-distance grandmother, and know what I’m talking about. We want to be positive influences, reinforcing godly values and morals in their young lives. We want to offer time, security, acceptance and affection. Our deepest desire is being involved in their lives and being remembered by them. Our worst fear is being a stranger to them!
So how do we “barren” grandmothers make the best of not getting to grandmother like we would want? How do we live far away in miles yet stay close in heart?
You won’t want to miss next month’s Part 2 on actual hands-on ideas of how to Grandparent long-distance.
By Margie Johnson, Libby, MT