I grew up far away from both sets of grandparents. I am fortunate to have a relationship with them and have wonderful memories when we were together, but for many years we only spoke on the phone and wrote letters. As a child, I had faint memories of them, but my mother made sure that despite the distance we grew to love them.
Those first few years here in the U.S. were tough, although as a child I didn’t fully comprehend how it affected me — until the holidays came around or during the summer. I would get “grandparents” envy when I’d hear my friends say their grandmother was in town, or they were spending Christmas with their grandparents. Anytime I would see a plane flying overhead, I would hope and wish that my ‘Opas’ (my grandparents) were surprising us and arriving from Chile. That never happened — at least not during my childhood.
After getting married in 2005, my husband and I moved to London. Four years later, I had my son and I quickly realized how much my mother and my mother-in-law yearned to be near us. My mother even said it was “painful” to be so far away. My mother-in-law would get emotional seeing pictures and always asked when we’d be home. And that’s when it all hit me — that it was happening all over again, and it pained me to think my children wouldn’t recognize their grandparents or have a relationship with them.
Right around the time my son was nearly three, we moved back to the U.S. Until then, he didn’t know who Oma or his other grandmother were, and he had only spent about two weeks with each of them. Now when he begs me to stay at Oma’s, or my mother-in-law spends all day with Little L in her arms, I think just how AWESOME grandmothers are and just how much love and devotion they have for their kids’ kids. Must be a surreal feeling.
I watch my mamá and mother-in-law with my children, and I see that despite being tired, worn out, and just simply out of practice, they will still play pretend, get down on the floor, make the baby food, change the yucky diapers and just love them with everything they’ve got.
That right there is pure awesomeness!