This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I am aching for my grandchildren. It is the kind of deep sad ache that I remember feeling as my period arrived and another month had gone by of me not conceiving. I so so wanted a baby.
My grandchildren are in Australia. Up until now I have been blessed by being able to see them twice a year. I like to think that I have been at least part of their lives. Their parents were in the UK when their second child was born, so I was absolutely hands on from the word go with her. Which was an absolute joy.
They are 8 and 5, a girl and a boy – such magical ages! I had missed out on the early days of my other son’s children when they were little, as he had been in Singapore.
So sadly due to our current circumstances the twice yearly visits have stopped.
No more bath time mayhem, no more granny games of wrapping the children in towels and pretending they were parcels and writing their address on the towel in all the places that tickle the most! No more grandchildren in my bed in the morning at 5.30am when “Mummy said to come and see you!” No more midnight feasts when Mummy and Daddy have gone away for the weekend or ice cream for breakfast! Well why not!
I miss them , truly madly deeply. They are both at school now. I don’t know who their friends are any more. I don’t get introduced proudly as “This is my Granny” any more. I have lost my currency with them.
Of course we talk on WhatsApp and I see what they have done to their rooms, hear what they are reading and how well they are doing at rugby or art or rock climbing. But I’m missing the first wobbly curtesy at ballet and the joy of my grandson being made Man of the Match because all the others have fallen over in the mud! Those are the magic moments.
My son in Sydney volunteers as a lifeguard every Sunday during the summer months. Australia has an age old tradition of an organised swimming programme called Nippers. As many as a thousand children over 6 join in for games and swimming at the beach. The objective is to teach them about the dangers of the sea (rip tides, surf and sharks) and to make them confident while having a load of fun. I’m just known as Granny at my son’s lifeguard club. Grannies are treasured by many in Australia – so many of the young families live miles away from their parents (even on different continents) so grannies are hard to come by – specially ones who play rugby and can down a few tinnies with the boys! I miss all that – and, of course, watching my grandchildren’s confidence grow.
I imagine I am not alone in my longing to have a really good cuddle with my grandkids but I must check myself from getting too indulgent. After all I know that as long as I survive Covid, I will get to see them. We are not being bombed, we do have enough to eat, we have shelter. We may have a big moan but my goodness we are far better off than most. So I decided to put my hormonal granny energies to work and, for the past three weeks, I have been writing a children’s story about a red eyed Wombat called Ruby who lives with my grandchildren in Sydney. They get a chapter a night.
There is one problem. I have been asked to slow down! With all the extra curricular events plus maths and reading homework, I’m overloading them. They can’t cope with seven chapters a week.
What shall I do? Any suggestions very welcome!
2 November 2020: Thank you for your helpful comments – I am limiting myself to one chapter a week! BackPacking Granny