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NONI'S PLACE - SEPARATION ANXIETY - When the Grandkids Move Away

Mary is an interior & kitchen designer and a grandma of two who lives in Pennsylvania.  Her two grandsons are the light of her life.  She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and loves writing about the joys of grandparenting and all the simplest things about grandkids that bring such delight. 

I love this time of year, Thanksgiving time…family time. The last golden leaves linger on the trees and there’s the hint of the snow to come. I didn’t always like the cold weather, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate every day and every season. Even though the trees are bare of their usual beauty and it’s getting colder, there is a coziness to gathering in front of the fire and looking forward to family celebrations at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah.

The house smells good with all the baking, fire roaring in the fireplace, spicy candles burning. My son and daughter were born in November, my son on Thanksgiving Day. And that alone, makes this a special time.

This year is different from past years. Instead of my daughter and family being a quick 25 minute drive away, they are 606.22 miles and a 9.5 hour drive away. Before they moved to North Carolina almost a year ago, I tried to store up as many memories as possible.

I admit it – I was spoiled. Any grandparent whose family is scattered all over the country already knows the feelings I have. But since my grandson Logan was born 4 1⁄2 years ago I’ve experienced the joys of grandparenthood up close and personal.

I volunteered to baby sit every chance I got. During my last “gig” I had a short time to enjoy little Maddox (almost 8 months old at the time) before he went to bed. Then, after dinner, Logan and I sat on the deck swing and savored the unusually warm night as we shared a piece of carrot cake. We talked about the stars and the crescent moon and how the night felt to us. Logan told me about his day. It was very quiet, a little foggy and I’ll always treasure that memory.

Afterward we went to his playroom with his trains. We talked endlessly about the merits of each kind of train. I have learned the names of all the Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. Logan never ceases to be fascinated with all the train characters. He rearranges the tracks and other parts endlessly, exploring all the ways they can be configured.

Soon it was bath time. Logan asked to take a bath. Imagine that - a little boy who wants to take a bath! But he had ulterior motives…there’s fun to be had there. He loves to stick the foam letters and numbers to the side of the tub. We first spelled L-O-G-A-N. Then he started to add letters on either side. Then I would pronounce the nonsense words which would send him into peals of laughter. I finally had to drag him out before he got water-logged. After teeth brushing, it was off to bed. The bedtime routine is that we have to sing car songs. I make them up on the spot and the sillier the better as far as Logan is concerned.

And then it was “good night” to my little angel. I listened on the monitor as he sang and talked himself to sleep.

Sometime later, I fell asleep on the sofa down stairs. Around midnight, I awoke to Maddox’s crying. After waiting a decent amount of time for him to go back to sleep, I went up to get him. And voila, another memory was made.

He was cold, having uncovered himself. I wrapped him in his warm cuddly blanket and rocked him in the chair. He looked at me sleepily, not quite sure who I was. I talked softly to him and he seem to say, “I know your voice, it sounds a bit like mommy’s but just not the same.” I also had nothing to feed him, so we just snuggled until his mommy and daddy returned.

I’ll always remember that beautiful little face and take out the memories when the longing for the kids get too strong.

What I won’t be able to do and what hurts the most is to have to wait for the chance to hold those sweet little guys in my arms. Their sweet smell and feel of their bodies can’t be experienced over the internet. A web cam can only do so much to bring your loved ones closer.

We have gone to Charlotte 3 times since last December. February was our first visit. It was so much fun to have Logan come running into our room to wake us up first thing in the morning with his giggles. They came in April to celebrate Maddox’s first birthday with the family. It was hectic getting everything ready...and 3 1/2 short days later, they were gone. We did manage to sneak in a day at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Then came their late May visit to celebrate Logan’s fourth birthday. A trip on the train at New Hope, PA was his special treat. Of course the theme of everything was Thomas.

Our July 4th visit to NC was marked by the hottest weather I have suffered through in many years. We practically lived at the pool

We just returned from a visit which combined a family bat mitzvah and a visit with the kids. And now we’ve come full circle…back to Thanksgiving time. And I will be thankful for every moment I get to spend with my grandsons.

Most of our visits are phone visits when Logan tells us about learning to skate or bowl when he got really big numbers like 9! He will talk on the phone for only so long before he wants to rush off and play. He has learned to be polite about getting off the phone. Instead of just hanging up, he asks to be excused.

So I hope your treasure every moment you have with your grandkids. Store up all the memories you can, any chance you get. They come in handy when the longing gets too strong to resist letting a few tears fall.

Can anyone spell F-R-E-Q-E-N-T F-L-Y-E-R???

I look forward to hearing from you and how you handle separation and other grandparenting issues.

Mary Halperin

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User Comments:
Grandma Wexler said:
I can empathisize with not being able to see your grandchildren when you want to. They certainly have a special place in our heart.
Linda said:
My daughter moved from Des Moines, IA. with my then 1 year old grandson 3 years ago, to Hot Springs AR., over six hundred miles away. Since then she has had 2 more, Sean will be 2 September 15 and Sam with be 1 August 31. I am 57 years old and single. I have been to Hot Springs to many times to count since their move. My heart aches for my grandkids, I miss them so much. I have tried to find work in Hot Springs, but can't live on the $7.00 to $8.00 an hour they want to pay. I have been a CNA for the most part of my life. Getting to old to continue with it. I have been looking for something that is not as physically demanding. My grandkids will be grown before I know it,they little for such a short time, I want to shower them with hugs and kisses, read to them, play with them, take them to the park, or to get Ice Cream. I miss them so much. I am not dealing with it well at all. I have been depressed since there move.
Pam Newton said:
My daughter and her family are leaving for Africa in a little less than 4 weeks. It has been a hectic time of good-bye parties, birthday parties, movie dates, and nights babysitting our 3 grandchildren. They are 4, 6 and 8 yrs. old. Up to now, I have been OK with it, because I plan to visit once a year. They'll be gone 4 yrs, and they will come home for visits during the summer. Today I started feeling very sad and depressed about it. I feel that I am losing them. I know the children love me, and I love them. It feels like they are being wrenched away. My daughter is always upbeat and positive about everything, so I try to see all the positives too. But it's not going to be easy. I feel like I wasn't a good enough mom or grandmother or person, for them to leave this way. I know it's not personal. But to me, it feels personal. I will finish projects while they're gone, and maybe go back to school. Get a feeling of accomplishment from taking photographs. I don't feel loved any more. Right now I am just wallowing in self-pity.
maureen said:
My son got a new job in Florida so they are leaving Colorado in two weeks with my 3 yr old grandson. I was there when he was born and see him often. We have a special bond and he loves his grandad. I cry every time I think of them living so far away. I am going to help for awhile but I know it won't be the same. We are planning to spend part of the year in Florida now since my husband can work from home and I am a retired teacher. I can't imagine saying goodbye. I have lots of hobbies, friends and activities but none compare to being with my grandson.
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