As you have read here I am a very long distance grandma. Dan lives in China with his wife and daughter Anqi. My husband and I live in Northern Ontario Canada. It is a 14 hour flight from Toronto and then a train ride to get to Nanjing. It is 14 hour drive to get to Toronto. So I would call that long distance.
My other son Raymond lives with his family a 10 hour drive over the trans Canada highway which is good but very crowded during tourist season. During the winter it is not the safest of drives due to the wind and weather which can cause road closures.
Needless to say we do not visit a lot with either of them. That is why I say computers are our best friends.
Now I have always wanted to be a housewife and mother and then I guessed grandma would just follow along the same route. Boy was I wrong. The housewife and mother went well, I was a stay at home mom since my degree of “Mental Retardation Counselor” was not required in any form in the small town we moved to. So I got to stay home with my children keeping house and being mom. We liked being in a small town and Don has a great job working at the gold mine. The boys did not as they became teens like it. There really was not much to do except outdoors type things which we did a lot of but the other teens figured on just leaving town when they were able to do so.
Raymond moved to the city and went to college to become a welder like his dad. He likes the job but unfortunately for us he also found his wife there. It was great for him and they are happy with their 3 children living just outside the city in a small town. The mines here were not and still are not hiring in fact the one Don works at will be closing in 3 years. So needless to say with no jobs that means Raymond will not return. Except for visits. So that means long distance grandparenting.
Dan moved to a different city and went to university. It was closer and we got to see him more as we go there at least once a month in the spring summer and fall and stock up on groceries which are not available in our small town. Also it is a nice trip just to get out of town and see people and stores. 2 grocery stores, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and 1 small department store gets a bit boring after a while. He then found no jobs and so he decided to try teaching in another country and he chose China. Why he picked China I do not know since we knew virtually nothing about the country. I talk to people all over the world and have friends via the internet in Australia, England, Japan, Scotland and the States. But he chose China.
He is happy there but as a mom I was extremely worried about him. When Raymond moved it was to a city we knew and he had relatives there so he was not really alone plus he spoke the language. Dan didn’t even know how to say hello in Chinese. Guess he overcame the language barrier since he met his wife there and they now have their daughter.
I am happy for both my children but do I ever have a bad case of Empty Nest.
I have always loved being around children, even when I was considered a child myself. I liked the younger ones who I could baby, and teach things to. I was the most popular babysitter in the town and was turning down jobs each weekend. So now that I have no children of my own and my health is not the greatest I miss little ones.
I have RA and some days it is almost impossible to do much of anything. So trying to plan on going to the library to read to them would not be fair to the staff or the children.
I depend on my computer to keep in touch with my long distance family. I have even been able to sing lullabies to Anqi who I call my littlest angel. I talk to the older ones but they are busy with school so not as often. But it helps.
I can hardly wait for visits this summer and we plan things with both families by computer. Sean is 10 and he has his own web site. To me that is amazing since when I was 10 we had dial phones, and TV. antennae on every house in town. We walked if we wanted to talk to a friend a few blocks away, and parents went outside and hollered when it was time to come home for supper.
Now it is cell phones, ipods, books on E readers and hand held games that we used to play on boards. There am I making you feel old now?
Like I said computers can be a grandparent’s best friend with communicating with your family it is less expensive than the phone since Skype is free and you have the web cam so you can see who you are talking to at the time. But if you look terrible with uncombed hair still in your housecoat you can talk without being seen by not turning on the web cam. When I talk on skype I feel like Mrs. Jetson when her friend called looking wonderful with her hair and makeup perfect then she sneezes and the mask is blown off. Funny when I was 8 but not so funny when it happens to be me. So not perfect no camera. That is number 1 rule.
One day I was talking to Ray’s little ones and I got to see Mia dance. She is in dance classes and was getting ready for a concert so she showed me the dance she would be doing. It was wonderful to see and she said she wanted to show me so I would be able to picture her on stage just as if I was there. That was her way of saying she would love me to be there but she knew it wasn’t possible. I am still a part of her life.
I am thinking about reading books with her as she gets older. Maybe I will introduce her to Anne of Green Gables and the Bobbsey Twins. I know I loved them both and maybe she will enjoy us reading them together by computer.
Cam likes to tell me about the toys and trucks he has and what he does with them. He especially likes the two we got for him that talk. It is so much fun to be part of that part of his life.
So yes computers are wonderful learning tools but they are a far cry from hands on grandparenting but it certainly helps fill in the gaps of love that distance makes.