How To Deal With A Long-Distance Grandma
Like any long distance relationship, having Grandma live on the other side of the country measures up to the foreseen toughness. Not only for the new and developing relationship between Baby Bird and her grandparent, but for me in my new role as a new mom, as well.
My mom and I are very close. Probably closer than what is actually consistent with a “normal/healthy” relationship. But, let’s be real, in this crazy world who’s to judge? My mom moved out to Eastern Canada 7.5 years ago. She moved for a temporary full-time position and guess what, it turned permanent. Having done a significant career change in her mid-forties, finding a respectable work environment had always been a dream. And as happy as I was for her to finally achieve this, I knew it meant having a long distance relationship. Relationships are hard enough as it is, never mind tossing in 3000km right smack dab in the middle.
For me, it was tough and still is tough. You have to understand that the only family I have is my mom, so having her so far away is a struggle I face everyday. Fortunately, when she initially moved, I was a young adult curious about the world. I was already living on my own and finishing off post secondary school which would soon lead into my crazy career, balancing jobs left, right and centre. It was shortly after her move that I met Papa Bird which propelled my life forward regardless of not having her here.
Back To Now
So ya it’s been 7.5 years of long distance mother-daughter time. But you know what, there have been some positive takeaways...
- Observing your child become an independent adult is scary and overwhelming and I’d say more times than not, parents struggle with this. This is also known as the famous “Empty Nest Syndrome.” Because of the distance in our relationship, this struggle was virtually non-existent. It forced me to be independent and take responsibility of my life. And I’m sure it was still overwhelming for my mom but we never had any of that misconstrued emotionally weird kinda stressful falling out. For this I am grateful.
- When we do get to visit one another, we make the most of it. Don’t get me wrong, it has taking time to figure out each other’s new lives and finding where exactly we fit in. That is one of the many struggles of living apart is that when you are together, you are together 24/7 under the same roof for the entire stay. And that can be a lot. It’s like she is a guest but she’s my mom so I don’t consider her a guest, so it’s kind of different from a regular guest... But eventually you figure it out and the visit becomes quite enjoyable.
- It’s allowed me to see the other side of Canada. As you have probably found out by now, I’m not a travel bug. Without my mom having moved to the other side of Canada, I doubt I would have made it there. But because she is there, I visit regularly and it’s a nice little getaway while also exercising my lack of travel bug..which has to be good.
- Becoming a mom has been an easy non-judgemental transition. I know it’s not intentioned by any mom to oversee the workings of their child becoming a parent, but it happens and it’s kind of to be expected. But everything we have done so far has been the result of Papa Bird and I working together to develop and grow our little family. It’s healthy and true and pure us.
But like every long distance relationship, it’s EXTREMELY hard sometimes...
- Like when one of you needs help and there is absolutely nothing you can do.
- Or when you just need that quality mom time but it’s just not the same over the phone.
- Or after every visit, you both bawl your faces off because saying goodbye is ALWAYS so hard. And it never gets easier.
- Or when you have to make scary adult decisions and you have to do it on your own.
- Or just the fact alone that it costs over $700 for a flight for one person and because you can’t fly direct, it ends up being an entire day of travel which is oh so exhausting...and expensive.
So now that we have Baby Bird what is it like to have Grandma live far, far, away?
- It still sucks.
- But we are making the most of it, trying to get a few more visits in within the year.
- Regularly FaceTiming and constantly sending cute pictures and milestone updates.
- And when Grandma does come for a visit, she does everything. She plays, she feeds, she changes diapers, she puts Baby Bird to sleep. And as much as it is a HUGE help for us and a great little break, it’s also needed because it’s how babies build relationships with people. If you provide them their basic needs, they will become attached.
- It’s knowing that we are both doing the best that we can given the circumstances. It’s understanding that unconditional love has no borders or distance restrictions and it’s teaching that to Baby Bird and being open to learning as we go.
And as far as Grandma’s relationship is with Baby Bird, well so far it has been great and I suspect it will only improve. Unlike us adults, Baby Bird has no other understanding other than Grandma living far away. And it’s our job as her parents to teach her how to have a successful long distance relationship. It’s setting aside time to FaceTime or talk on the phone. It’s texting more often then not. It’s purposefully putting effort into the relationship to ensure it doesn’t fizzle. It’s using our vacation time to go for an airplane ride and visit. It’s about embracing the adventure and uncertainty of it all and making the conscious choice to pursue the relationship. Every relationship is a choice. It doesn’t matter who it’s with. The only difference with a long distance relationship is that everything is that much harder. And, let’s be honest, we as a human race have gotten pretty lazy in the effort department. But also like any relationship, a long distance relationship requires effort by both parties in order for it to be successful. It requires honesty, loyalty, and efficient communication. As hard as it is, especially on the tougher days, our hope is that Baby Bird develops these qualities by having a long distance relationship with Grandma.
- Mama Bird