- Linda Lyzenga
Congratulations are in order! I’m going to be a grandma. Every where I go these days I see young moms with babies and I want to peek at each little one and then share the good news – I’m going to be a grandma. I am the expectant one. Anticipation is high. They’re going to have a baby girl in April. I can hardly wait; other grandmas that I know say there’s nothing like it. Oh, just wait, they say. Lucky you! First one? You’re going to love it!! *Sigh* Did I say that I’m going to be a grandma? Congratulate me!
Now tell me how to navigate being a long distance grandma. I don’t want to be a long distance grandma. I don’t want to be thought of as the grandma who lives far away. I want to be a grandma that’s available at the drop of a hat. I want to take care of baby girl when her mommy has to go back to work. I want to be there for all those monumental firsts. I want to experience… I want… I want… Oh, I sound like a two-year-old. There are moments some day’s of an almost desperate sense of separation – of longing, loss and loneliness.
Most days I’m fine. It’s not like they moved away yesterday. It’s over ten years ago that younger daughter left home for her great adventure. Off she went – leaving all that was familiar here in Western Michigan to go to a university in Southern California. I thought she’d be back. But then, she got the job; and then, she met the guy. They’ve been married over five years now.
When her sister flew the coup to make a fresh start in Northern Florida, I was left decidedly as an empty nester. I couldn’t be more proud of both my girls. I’m truly happy for the life that is theirs. My girls are not coming home. They both live far, far away. People often say, “That must be hard.” Some days I must admit – it IS hard. Most days, though, there is a special grace that soothes my heart. On any given day when I miss them, I think of how we’ve been able to keep in touch. In fact, is it possible that we’re closer now than we ever were? When the geographical distance seems too great, I imagine how it was when children from past generations left home – never to be seen again after having moved to places far and away. Long distance telephone calls were reserved for strict emergencies. Other communication was relegated to snail mail – a delivery of old news. Today there’s ease in communication with free minutes and cell phones. Email. Facebook. Skype. Packages sent UPS. Special little notes sent in the mail. We’ve had a really good track record of cross country trips and have found a good rhythm of making it work. For this I’m beyond grateful!
But now that I’m going to be a grandma something has shifted in my perspective. Self compassion and self awareness invite me to process why I’m feeling deprived and despairing when this grandchild hasn’t even arrived on the scene yet.
What’s going on?
It’s the anticipated face-to-face moments that I’ll miss out on. The hoped for shared experiences that simply will not be. Precious memories with that teeny tiny new born seem to be waiting in some kind of vacuum.
More than that, I realize that it’s the fear of not being known – of being missed.
With this realization distilled and clarified, I realize that I have a choice. I can choose to view this new relationship from a vacant place of distance and scarcity of intimate face-to-face time. Or, I can choose to step into my new role from a place of abundance and gratitude.
With generosity and creativity I can be known as a loving grandma – fully present; engaging – even from a distance – with intention and creativity.
Celebrate with me – I’m going to be a grandma!
Linda is passionate about wholeness and healing and finds her sweet spot in the role of Spiritual Director.
Married with two adult daughters, who have flown the coup – far from Western Michigan where they grew up, she’s home alone with her husband of 37 years. Linda enjoys baking, knitting, reading, writing, hiking and camping. At any given time while pursuing some of the above activities you'll find her camera close at hand.