How important is Grandma?
10/08/2010

In my highly technical research and  experience of life in general  (well watching re-location, escaping to the country type programmes!), it seems that once people have children, they like to live nearer to their  family.  Most women want to move to live near their mothers – just not TOO close!  Is this just because they want free babysitters and childcare, or are they thinking it would be good for the children to grow up knowing their grandparents?

When I was small, my granny lived round the corner from us along with my aunties.  In those days, lots of families had relatives living on the same street, never mind in the same town.  When I was about three we moved to another town and I didn’t see them quite as much as it involved a long bus journey – my mother didn’t drive then.  A few years later we moved to ano ther county and now only saw them once a month.  Although I can’t have spent that much time with my granny, I can still remember the things we did.  She would tell me stories about when she was a little girl and how poor they were.  We used to watch wrestling and rugby league on ‘Word of Sport’ on ITV and she’d make me a dish of boiled (old) potatoes, with a slice of cold butter on top.  Once she asked me if I wanted a ‘cakey’, I eagerly waited for this special treat, which turned out to be a jam sandwich!   I stayed at her house overnight a few times and  can still remember the cold lino under my feet in the bedroom and getting sterilised milk out of the pantry for my cereal in the morning.  She used to let me run errands for her too and I would go to the greengrocers where they would pour potatoes and carrots straight into the old hessian shopping bag I took with me.  She would defend me against anybody and told me I’d ‘look bonny even if I was in rags’ and that I should be entered into the ‘Miss Pears’ competition.  (younger people will have no idea what that was!)

My dad’s mother lived about five hours away in Bournemouth and I can only remember her coming to stay with us a couple of times.  My brother had to be pushed out of his bedroom and I had to share with my sister.  Special things were bought and soap and towels put in the room, along with a mirror and clock. (Stuff that a five year old boy’s ropm didn’t normally have)  We visited her a couple of times and I can remember a garden with flowers and a swing outside.  This was a far cry from my other granny’s terraced house with its backyard and outside lavatory.

When I got married and had my children, all the grandparents were working full time (well my parents were only 42!) although living only 15 minutes away.   Because of this we used to see them about twice a week.  When my then youngest was two, we moved a two hour journey down south, so visits were rare but special.  Do children need to see their grandparents often to develop a bond with them?  These days it is easier with the internet, skype, twitte & facabook, but can that replace actually seeing them in the flesh?

By the time my parents had retired, my brother and sister both had children and lived near enough to visit and benefit from babysitting and childminding (I had two more children by now).  My sister in law lived with her parents and had childcare on tap.  I felt my children missed out having that closeness to their grandparents. the abilitiy just to call in on the way home from school.  Being able to visit them without parents in tow, so they could have a moan, or be indulged with stuff that parents won’t allow them to do or have.

Now I have my own grandsons, they also live far away, two of them in the US and the other a two hour car journey away (more if traffic’s bad).  I would love it if we were closer, so that the special relationship could develop.  Luckily they have their maternal grandmothers close by.  It would be lovely to do the little things together on our own. Just going for a walk, or doing some cooking, visitng the library or the park.  At the moment they’re all a bit young to do that.  It’s lovely however, when we do see them – it’s a special occasion and a holiday (particularly in US) and hopefully when they’re older, they’ll all be able to come and stay with us, without their parents. so we, like all grandparents, can indulge them, knowing we can hand them back at the end!

You might want to look at this too, kindly suggested by @himupnorth

http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/

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Time
10/06/2010

I used to think of ‘time’ as a line with no particular beginning and stretching far away into the distance before disappearing into  misty clouds.  In my mind the days were marked with notches, Saturday and Sunday being taller notches, as there was no school on those days and more possibility for adventures. At weekends and during the school holidays we would leave the house early in the morning and not get back till tea time.  We made dens and paddled or swam in the river, we walked with the dogs just to see how far we could get in a day, sometimes experiencing the wrath of farmers whose fields we were crossing. 

Time seemed to be endless, waiting for Christmas or birthdays felt like an eternity, but as the only treats or presents we got were on these occasions, the anticipation made up for it.  Although I enjoyed school, sometimes waiting for the bell to ring during double maths or biology felt as if time had stood still.  Looking at my watch every minute willing it to be home time.

With all my pregnancies, time seemd to drag interminably, I couldn’t wait for the baby to be born. The due date would arrive and pass and each day after seemed as long as the previous nine months, ending up with being induced.  Next time, I would promise myself, I’ll wait for the baby to arrive naturally, but by 40 weeks I was climbing the walls.  Each day not knowing if this would be the day, was driving me mad and restless.

Once they were born I was impatient for them to achieve those milestones that we are led to believe are so important – especially with the first.  Would they ever talk, walk, sleep!  I was fuzzy with exhaustion and the days seemed even longer. Would tonight be the night I got more than 3 hours unbroken sleep? 

I couldn’t wait for them to be old enough to go to playgroup, so I could have some peace and quiet for a couple of hours.  I was keen for them to start school so I could have time for myself instead of endless repetetive games and reading and re-reading the same stories.

Time shuffled on then all at once the last child was 18, how did that happen? She moved out, following her three older brothers.  The nest was empty and the house quiet.  Now I have all the hours I want to myself, time is looming large and empty, weekends and weekdays are all the same and time is dragging again.  This time I know I should make the most of it, because before you know it, it’s gone altogether.

I wrote this for http://www.sleepisfortheweak.org.uk/2010/06/10/writing-workshop-lost-art/?utm_source=twitter