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Staying in Touch

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by bubbyjoysandoys 25 Comments

Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles

Long Distance...the next best thing to being there...

Long Distance…the next best thing to being there… (photo credit)

As women, we meet friends in various life situations.  We have our childhood friends, school friends,  neighborhood friends, Temple or  Synagogue friends, our summer friends…and others.  Some people even have their “vacation” friends – the ones they go on vacation with.

 

I have my writing – or “blogging”- friends. These are writers/bloggers who I’ve met on the blogosphere.   We write comments on each others’ blogs and send each other emails expressing  opinions and feedback.

 

 Recently, I met a woman in Blogland, Rivki Silver whose blog,  Life in the Married Lane, I discovered and took a liking to. And even though she is young enough to be my DAUGHTER (please don’t laugh – it’s okay to be friends with someone younger than us, right?), I found that we have a lot in common. Passion for music, relationships, writing, children, Judaism and family values.

 

Anyway, I started off by responding to her blog posts (even though they were about raising three little kids under the age of 5  – closer to my grandchildren’s ages).  Next, I wrote her an email asking her if she knew my relatives in Baltimore (that’s where she is from).  Nothing like a bit of Jewish Geography to get a relationship going, right? 

 

Well to make a long story short, I guest posted on Rivki’s blog several weeks ago, which was a big thrill for me. So following that, I asked Rivki to contribute to my blog as well.  Below you will see her practical insights and creative ways to keep up with grandparents who (sadly) live far away.  It’s all about staying in touch. Being close in spite of the miles between grandparents, mothers-in-law…mothers and grandchildren.   It’s all about Quality Time from a distance….with Bubby or Zeidy (that’s Grandma or Grandpa!).

Enjoy! And feel free to write a comment – Rivki (and I) would love to hear from you. And don’t forget to stop by her website  and check out her awesome and compelling (and funny!) writing.

 

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When Grandparents Live Far Away

 By Rivki Silver

“How do you manage without family nearby?” This is a question I hear somewhat frequently, usually around holidays or after having a baby.  I’m one of the many people who live far from parents and in-laws.  Distance has taught me how to manage without the aid of close family (good friends are a necessity!), but I haven’t entirely adjusted to the reality that my children only see their grandparents a few times a year.

I grew up in a similar situation.  We lived in the heart of the midwest, my mother’s side was up in Wisconsin, and my father’s on the East Coast.  We would visit our grandparents a few times a year, and while I have clear memories of spending time with both sides, it wasn’t like I was close enough to call up my grandmother to shmooze.  And I regret that.

My husband had the benefit of living in the same city with his maternal grandparents, and had a very close and warm relationship with them.  As for his paternal grandmother, she stayed in the old country.  He did talk to her on the phone a few times a year, but still, he frequently mentioned that he felt bad for her.  She didn’t seen her grandchildren in over twenty years, or her great-grandchildren ever, except in photos.

So, with our experiences as such, we are doing our best to ensure that our children have the closest relationship with their grandparents as they can, and, of course, try to make sure that the grandparents get as much nachas (joyful pride) from the grandkids as they can!

We are fortunate that my parents are able to travel to us many times during the year, and are able to stay for more than a week at a time (my dad more so than my mom, as he is retired and she is not).  We are also fortunate that we are able to visit my mother-in-law about twice a year.

For the times when we remain far apart, there are a variety of options for keeping in touch.  We are fortunate to live in an age where technology can kind of shrink the feeling of distance.  Admittedly, I could be a whole lot better at doing a lot of these things.  I’m glad I’m writing this post because it’s giving me some incentive to be more connected!

Email.  Ever since I got a smartphone, it has been ridiculously easy to snap a photo of the kids being cute and send it in an email.  This is a popular thing among the grandparents.  I used to send a weekly email in which I would share cute antics of the kids.  It was easy enough to start an email draft and add a little bit each day, sending it off at the end of the week.  An additional benefit of that is that I would actually have a record of what my kids were up to, since I seem to forget so quickly who did what when.

Skype.  My boys love playing with my computer (though I do try to minimize it because I don’t particularly enjoy it), and so the combination of Bubby AND the computer is a real cause for excitement.  Even though the audio and/or video can be spotty, the boys love to see their grandparents on the screen, even if no one is saying (or hearing) much of anything.  It’s entertaining to see my boys holding up various toys to show to my parents or my mother-in-law, and while I often have to serve as a translator, everyone has a good time.

Phone.  I call my parents and my mother-in-law regularly, and when the kids are around, I will put the phone on speaker and then everyone can talk.  I like to do it on speaker so I can help facilitate actual conversation.  Well, as much conversation as you can get with an almost-three-year-old.  Seeing the way my kids’ eyes light up when they hear a grandparent on the phone (even the baby gets excited!) is very touching.

Pictures.  When I’m able to, I order actual pictures and mail them off.  After both of my husband’s maternal grandparents passed away, we went through all our pictures and sent my mother-in-law a book of pictures we had of her parents with our kids. I know someone who would send a photo book to each set of grandparents every Chanukah.  I would love to be that organized.  It’s something to aspire to, for certain!

Stories.  We do try to talk about the grandparents a lot to the kids.  With bedtime stories, or if we’re reading a book and there’s some way to integrate a cameo from a relative, we go for it.  Of course, when we are going to visit, or when someone’s coming for a visit, we talk about it for weeks and weeks beforehand.  We definitely try to build a lot of excitement about getting to spend time together.  Another sweet thing we do is to go through a list of all the relatives we love, listing everyone by name.

Projects.  Making welcome signs for a visiting grandparent has become a tradition of sorts.  My oldest will even write “Welcome So-and-So” by himself now, which thrills whoever is visiting.  There’s some nachas!  Sometimes I will have the kids draw pictures and mail them off.  I used to send over the school projects that I wasn’t planning to keep to my parents or my mother-in-law, which is win-win because they can enjoy them and I won’t feel guilty about throwing said projects away.

That’s pretty much it.  It’s not the same as being able to get in a car and be at Grandma’s five minutes later, but it is the best we can do.  I am definitely agitating for at least one side to move here, but as of now I have not been successful.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on that quest!  Having grandparents in town would be wonderful.  I am very interested in hearing other ways of keeping in touch, or of really integrating far-away relatives into our children’s lives, so please tell me how you do it!


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25 Responses

  1. I think you covered all the options! I live close enough to my kids (sons) to visit frequently but not close enough to drop in every day. My parents are about 3 hours from me and that is increasingly more worrisome. My daughter has moved to San Francisco and that’s very hard; for some reason the three hour time change makes it hard to skype/video chat/ telephone etc. even though it’s not that much time.
    Alas; we’re lucky to have all this technology that makes the world smaller; but being apart is still being apart.

    • OmaOrBubby says:

      I totally agree with you, Lisa. One of our couples lives far away and it’s hard. Also my elderly parents live far away and it’s getting hard for them to travel distances. I love Rivki’s positive take on the whole idea. Gives us hope that we can connect if we try…

  2. […] back?  The one about inter-generational relationships?  Well, I’ve reciprocated over at her blog.  She’s a bubby and a mother-in-law, and I’m a mommy and a daughter-in-law, and the […]

  3. Rivka H. says:

    We do all of these things Rivki and my kids are very close to my parents. I also like to mail some of their school projects to the grandparents (a good alternative to just throwing them away).

    We lived in the same city with my parents (and a sister) for years. We moved only 4 hours away from them, specifically so we could visit each other often. One neat thing that we’ve discovered is that although we spent a lot of time together when we were nearby, now we spend more intense, quality time together. Since they stay with us, they help put the kids to bed, the older kids stay up late playing games with grandma and grandpa, we hang out in our pajamas together, eat breakfast together – all things we never did when we’d just get together after school or something.

    • OmaOrBubby says:

      That’s such a good point, Rivka. The short and intense doses of quality time with cousins can be really hectic, but also times that we accomplish a lot of outings together! 🙂 thanks..Miriam

    • Rivki Silver says:

      I love how you bring out that the time we spend together is much more focused, instead of being “taken for granted.” I will try to focus on that the next time we have a visit, instead of being sad that it’s not for longer!

  4. Nina Badzin says:

    These are all great ideas, Rivki! We are lucky to have my husband’s family here, but my whole family is in Chicago. Would be especially hard on us to have no family at all here.

    • OmaOrBubby says:

      Hi – I agree, Nina, as I live actually 3,000 miles from my own family, but thankfully have my in-laws and my husband’s siblings here. So our kids grew up with cousins and grandparents. I know what you mean – sort of, because not having my own family nearby was a little lonely sometimes! …thanks for your comment. Miriam

    • Rivki Silver says:

      Hi Nina! It’s nice that your husband’s family is in town. What a boon. And Chicago isn’t too terribly far, is it?

  5. Rivki:
    I don’t understand your comments regarding your father’s paternal grandmother. She was not in “the old country” … she was in Upstate NY and as long as she was physically able to do so she would visit your father’s family in Indiana and Aunt Barb’s family in Iowa every summer. She died in the early 1970’s but as the mother of 11 children she lived to see many of her grandchildren born and also some great grandchildren from her older kids. I certainly remember her well!

    • Rivki Silver says:

      Diane already mentioned to me on Facebook that this was a misunderstanding. To clarify – my *husband’s* paternal grandmother stayed in the old country. And I had no idea that I had family in Iowa. You learn something new every day!

  6. beccakinla says:

    Rivki’s ideas are great. We already do a number of them, but I really like the idea of passing down family stories to your own kids. It’s funny, because when I tell stories about wacky things various family members did, the kids always want to hear the stories again.

    My kids are older than Rivki’s, so I’ve got to add one more thing: letters. Real letters, either in cards they made or on notepaper they picked out. Even if it’s only 1 sentence, the grandparents/greatgrandparent/etc. go nuts. This Rosh Hashana was the first time we sent cards out where all our kids, bli ayin hara, could sign their own names. Oh, the nachas everyone got out of that!

    • OmaOrBubby says:

      Becca, I can relate to that (and also to Rivki’s suggestions). The letters is such a great idea — When my kids were little, we did the phone thing, sending projects, pictures in an envelope, and letters/cards. Email didn’t exist and neither did skype

      My dil from out-of-town (one lives nearby and one lives out of town) often sends art from the boys….and pictures in an envelope. Also “snapfish” files of pictures too. Funny thing about the phone with our grandsons is that they aren’t so into the phone yet – in a real conversational way. One of them gets really silly (5 1/2 year old humor) and starts singing hysterical/nonsensical songs — which I love. It’ fun.

  7. Great post and ideas! We related so much. For us to feel that we are connected with our family even though we live far away from each other is so important. I wanted my daughter to share quality time with my parents while we Skype so I developed http://www.letsplayplease.com to help them engage and have fun while they communicate.

    • OmaOrBubby says:

      Thanks Mariela! I love that idea!
      We don’t use skype much with our grandkids
      but many people do. The few times we
      did Skype we were a bit stilted as in
      “Hello! Hello!!” And not knowing
      what to say. So I think your blog
      concept is brilliant. Let’s play
      and interact while bonding! Thanks
      for sharing.

  8. Thank you very much, Miriam! What you mentioned about your experience while using Skype with little ones is exactly the reason why I had the need to create http://www.letsplayplease.com so my daughter was able to engage with my parents who live overseas.

    I always pass tips from your posts to my mom. She doesn’t speak English so I read them and pass the information 🙂

  9. OmaOrBubby says:

    Mariela, that is amazing and heartwarming that you pass my info on to your mom who lives overseas! Glad she can enjoy the content. I wonder if I should offer my content in other languages as well (is it Spanish that your mother speaks?). Anyway, lots of luck with your website – it certainly is a great concept and I hope you’ll come visit here more, as well as visit Rivki’s blog (if you have not done so already) http://lifeinthemarriedlane.com she’s the amazing mommy-blogger who has guest posted here on my blog and is also a huge advocate of skyping. Check out her post on keeping in touch

  10. Thanks again, Miriam!
    I follow Rivki in twitter. I love her posts too!
    It will be great to have your content in Spanish!
    See you soon.

  11. I was wondering if you ever considered changing
    the page layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way
    of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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