Sunday, May 10, 2015

Missing Grandparents

One thing I didn't expect coming overseas is how much Hadassah would miss her grandparents. Sure, I knew we would miss living so far away from family, but Hadassah was surely too young to notice, right?

While she doesn't know the reason or the specifics, I know she feels the distance. I have never seen a one year old that loves her grandparents SO much! Of course, I've never been this closely connected to a one year old, so I'm probably just biased. But sometimes the little miss will talk about them 10 times a day!

The last time Hadassah was with her grandparents, 4 1/2 months ago. She had them all together for a short time even!
We have helped with her love... and I know living overseas has also "helped" in some respect, as we spent weeks at a time living with each set before moving over here. We've continued weekly skypes since arriving (the 12-13 hour time difference means we can skype them while we eat breakfast during their evening) which Hadassah loves. She lights up like nothing else when she sees one of their pictures on the screen as skype starts the call, and is hard to console if they don't answer right away. Having the same time that we aim for each week helps us keep consistent, but even if we didn't, Hadassah wouldn't let us forget; especially if we miss a week, one of the first things on her lips every morning is "G'ma?"

It's gotten harder for her to eat her breakfast when we call them now, though. She just wants to be done so she can show them her cardboard house or new favorite book or toy. She loves playing with them nearby, even if they're just on the screen, and singing songs and doing actions with them are her highlights. Sometimes it's hard to get any talking in ourselves with how much she loves interacting!

Skype is wonderful, and I can't believe how blessed we are to have that. But, it's hard sometimes. Hard to see my little one reach out for things her grandparents are showing her, not understanding that it's really not right there. Hard when she sometimes doesn't want to say goodbye, not wanting them to leave. Hard that she knows blowing kisses way better than giving kisses for real. And sometimes, she seems even more sad when it's over, having seen them but not had them right there.

I'm not writing this to make her grandparents cry. ;) Just to be aware, for those you know who live overseas, of the challenges. While we love the longer visits you get when you fly so far so you stay longer to make it worth it, it's hard when they come but once a year (or less often for some people). It's hard to watch the holidays pass, ones you would normally drive to see grandparents on with your days off, to see the pictures of families all together on Facebook, and feel the distance, especially when the holiday isn't even celebrated or acknowledge in your country of residence.

But, we are so grateful that God has given our little one a love for her grandparents, and a knowing of them. Due to all the skypes, when we went back for Christmas after not seeing them in person for months, Hadassah willingly went to her grandparents (when she wouldn't go to anyone else!) as they were familiar. We keep them familiar for her, having pictures at her level of them to look at, letting her watch videos we took of her with them occasionally (it calms her down and makes her smile like nothing else!), and creating a small photo album just for her of her grandparents. They're also, of course, in "The People Who Love You" book I made for her coming over here, a digital photobook full of the pictures and names of family and close friends. She loves us to read it to her, and can identify and even say the names of many in it!

We get creative, too, like making toilet paper tube dolls with their picture pasted on it. She loved playing with them for a time, "talking" to them, showing them things, and even giving them kisses.

 Occasionally mail comes as our moms are very thoughtful to get things to us, and this last Easter card was one Hadassah really noticed. First, she was with me when it came in the mail, and I told her excitedly "This is to Hadassah from Grandma and Grandpa!" Then it had a cute card she loved and was full of stickers! That will make any toddler pretty happy. :) We made a card and then sent pictures by email to her grandparents, knowing that was easier than sending the actual page (though I'm saving it to give them sometime!). And for weeks after it came, and even now sometimes, when we go past our mailbox at the bottom of the stairs, she looks towards it and says "G'ma G'pa?" in hope that they'll be something for her. But it's hard when mail takes weeks to come, costs more expensive, and even gets lost sometimes (like the Valentine's day card that never made it). You feel the distance more.

We were very close to moving just a few hours from each set of grandparents when we ended up taking this job in China instead, and it's still our dream one day... right between or even in town with one set (though that's hard in my husband's current industry - no jobs in either location) - and not JUST for the free babysitting it would provide. ;) We want Hadassah to really know and spend time with the wonderful grandparents she's been given.

But, God has a plan, and we're thankful for the things we've been given. Grandparents are a true blessing! So if you have some near you, give them a special hug. And if they're far away, try setting up skype if you haven't already. It's definitely worth it.

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