Some years ago, when I still lived in Costa Rica, within a fairly short period of time I had two different girlfriends tell me about how they just couldn’t wait to be grandmas. My first thought was, meh, whatever. (My second thought was, “so why are you making these plans to move a few thousand miles away to a foreign country?!?” but, hey, not my business.)
My “meh” reaction wasn’t that I had anything at all against becoming a grandmother. It just wasn’t really on the radar screen. Our kids were grown and had moved cross-country to California (our son to L.A. and our daughter to Sacramento) well before we moved to Costa Rica, so family being far-apart just seemed like the norm. And neither kid was in a committed relationship, much less married with kids on the way, so the whole thing just hadn’t registered.
Well, our daughter did get married and with some acknowledgement that a family probably wasn’t too far behind (as she was sneaking her way into her 30s) but even then we didn’t think that grandchildren would have that much effect on us.
Then she really was pregnant, and then she really did have a baby, and we LOVED having that little bundle of preciousness in our family. But EVEN SO we didn’t immediately feel like it had changed anything all that much. (Okay, we’re a little slow on the uptake, I’ll readily admit it!)
After we’d spent a few weeks with the baby soon after she was born, we DID at least have the good sense to start talking about how we might want to come back to visit more often than we had in the past (bearing in mind that until this point, we almost never came back to the U.S.) but we still just didn’t fully get it. 😉
And finally, it happened. We spent the next few months getting photos by email, occasionally Skype-ing, and it suddenly hit us like the proverbial ton of bricks.
We didn’t want to be a “once-a-year-visit” family. We’d somehow accepted that with our kids just because it really seemed to be the way it was. We all felt like we were “close” emotionally, even though we weren’t physically, and that just seemed like how it would be.
But we started talking about it. Maybe there was another way. Maybe we should consider how important was it to us to stay in Costa Rica vs. having an actual day-to-day relationship with our grandchild.
Once we voiced the question, the answer wasn’t very long in coming. We had sold our home in Costa Rica and were living in the Salt Lake City area within 6 months.
We really couldn’t imagine how we would feel and now that we’re here—and have been here nearly 3 years now—I simply can’t imagine NOT being here to be part of all this. I know that many, many grandparents simply don’t have those choices and yet I am sure that their love is no less; just their circumstances are different. It makes me grateful every moment that life has given us this opportunity. And it’s made me acutely aware of what it means to be a grandma.
I just had no idea!