You just finished another chaotic FaceTime call. Chubby toddler fingers hung up several times, hoping to catch that elusive red button. He ran from his mom and your view was straight up that adorable nose for about half the conversation. His 4-year-old brother alternated between refusing to talk and giving a doctoral lecture on carnivorous dinosaurs.
You’re a little frustrated. You’re a little heartbroken. Frankly, you’re a little dizzy from them running rogue with the phone through the house.
But you accept it. In fact, you cherish that crazy call because you are rocking a role you never imagined for yourself . . .
You’re a long-distance grandparent.
It’s not what you expected when you daydreamed of grandchildren, and it’s certainly not the path you would have chosen, but that’s life. The actuality is that while you’re physically here, your heart is beating a thousand miles away. You suspected trouble the moment your daughter brought that boy home, he had Midwest charm and plans to return to the corn fields. She caught the kind of love that would follow him anywhere.
And, of course, you were happy for her when they announced plans to marry and relocate, but the reality of that revelation brought you to your knees. Even years before those sweet little boys arrived, you wondered, “What about my future grandchildren?” You knew the weight of those words.
And now you’re living within that reality. Sometimes it feels like you’re confined to a screen and the occasional visit. You miss so many of the small, everyday joys that come with being a grandparent. And if we’re being honest? It stinks. It stinks and sometimes (though you hate to admit it), you find yourself green with envy that the other grandparents live so close. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around? It doesn’t feel fair.
How will you establish a bond with your long-distance grandchildren? But it’s there, I promise. It may not look the way you originally planned, but your bond is so evident it brings tears to my eyes. Mom and dad, even from afar you have brilliantly cultivated a relationship with my children that is cemented in love. I see it in the way you make the most of every call. I hear it in the way the boys cheer whenever there’s a package waiting for them on our doorstep. I feel it in the way you hug them goodbye after a visit, their warm tears still dropping to my shoulders long after we’ve left. It’s evident and it’s real and it’s a beautiful thing.
To them you’re not just their faraway relatives, you’re grandma and grandpa.
Navigating this distance hasn’t been easy for anyone. I can’t count how many times I lamented living far away from home, remembering a painted rock from childhood. It said, “Grow where you’re planted.” Oh, how that rock taunts me!
I didn’t grow where I was planted—in fact, I uprooted and took your dreams of living close to grandchildren away with my runaway branches. For that, I am truly sorry. But I also firmly believe that love knows no distance. I think of the quote by Tom McNeal, “Distance means so little when someone means so much.”
My children may not live next door, but their love for you has strong roots. They have never felt less than your entire world, nor have they felt like they’ve missed out on anything because of the miles.
I always knew you’d both make exceptional grandparents, but to see it in action is awe-inspiring. Our circumstances may never change, but neither will my respect and appreciation for all you do for our family. For all you do for our boys. You are their FaceTiming, frequent flier miles flying, constant group chat sharing, care package sending, memory making, forever loved and cherished grandparents. And you are truly the best.