I AM A LONG DISTANCE GLAMMA. The last time I saw my grand and great granddaughters face to face was 1 1/2 years ago. I don’t always get pictures and or telephone calls. I wear the name of Glamma proudly, but I don’t get to share in the day to day joys. However, I can’t let this get me down.
For some, there are barriers that create the distance. It may be your child, Baby Daddy, Baby Mama, other Grands that might be trying to block your blessing. Just tell yourself, they don’t have that power. You might have to love on them enough to get to love on your grands. Whatever it takes, DO IT! Move self and pride out of the way. Don’t lose yourself or dignity, but let them know that you love your grand and that you want to love them.
Being a Long Distance Glamma is not the worse thing in the world and I don’t have the time or luxury to sit, be mad and lament over things I can’t control. Life is too short! I can, however, give thanks for the blessings that many are not afforded. See, I’m a lemonade kind of girl. I was blessed to have these special people in my life and I will squeeze those lemons, add a little sugar and water and serve everyone the most refreshing drink they have ever had!
So, how do we make some lemonade? By being creative as a Long Distance Glamma. With a little effort on our part, we can have a wonderful time and relationship with our grands. The following suggestions are not just for long distance Glammas (although it helps us most), but they are helpful to ALL GLAMMAS. Here are a few suggestions I have read and tried.
- PLAN TRIPS – Save up those pennies, travel miles and vacation time. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, treat yourself to a visit; even if you must stay in a hotel. There is nothing like a face to face. As the grands get older, they will look forward to that time with you.
- STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE – As with grandparents that get to see their grands often, we need to come to their level in terms of what is a good time. While it is wonderful to share our pleasures with them, we must share their pleasures with them. Get engaged.
- BEEF UP YOUR TECHNOLOGY -Get a good computer that has a very good one camera. You’re gonna need it. The computer is the new window (no pun intended) to the new world. You don’t want to miss anything because you’re not prepared. Don’t forget about your cell phone! Make sure you have one with all the communication bells and whistles. I know phone use to be just to make and receive calls, but taking pictures, chatting, videotaping and being on social media has become just as important.
- LEARN TO VIDEO CALL/SKYPE – We did not grow up with the computer connection, but that is the way it is right now. For long distance, it is wonderful. While pictures are great, there is nothing like seeing the live person right in front of you. You get to share the smiles and tears; seeing them perform in a play or sporting event. It adds such a dimension to your relationship.
- DOWNLOAD SOME APPS AND GAMES – This new generation is attached to their phones, computers and iPad. We must join them! Learn to Tweet, upload to Instagram, Snap Chat – learn to do it all. Learn to be relevant in their world.
- SEND LETTERS AND GIFTS – Always keep on top of the things that make them smile, i.e. a favorite color or character, a book, a song, etc. Give them something to smile about. And when they smile, they will think of you. Growing up, we always had a cupcake or lollipop for special holidays. It was the highlight of our day. I never forget a card I received with $5.00 in it for Halloween. It was my first year of college. The note simply said to buy myself a treat. That card reminded me that even though I was far away, I was still in their hearts and on their minds. It gave me such a feeling. Later on, I did the same for them. Love them like you would like to be loved.
- START A COMMON HOBBY THAT YOU BOTH CAN SHARE FROM A DISTANCE – Maybe you both like to color. How special would it be for both of you to post your projects for all to see and enjoy? Say you both like to sing. Maybe they can prepare a song for you and you do the same for them. Even perform and record a duet. Learn a new language. For this one, you might have to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new. But look at the bond it will create between the two of you. That connection will be priceless.
- ENCOURAGE THEIR GROWTH – Send them messages of hope and faith – for no reason at all. Build them a reservoir for them to draw from. On good days and bad, they will hear their Glamma’s voice. Develop a mantra. In the movie The Help, the maid Aibileen had a mantra for the little girl. She fed her those words over and over again. She spoke that truth into existence. I know my Grandmother did. Might have sounded like a bunch of words at some point, but they are pearls of wisdom that I embrace now. Even though you are not there, YOU CAN BE THAT PERSON FOR THEM.
- BECOME A CONFIDANT – Share secrets. That’s right, learn to dish. Tell them something about you and they are more apt to tell you things about themselves. The trick here is not to be judgmental. You have so many lessons to share with them. Lessons that they can use later in life.
- TRY TO CREATE/BE PART OF A GROUP CALENDAR – Parents can list activities that your grand is taking part of. This way you can call or text to give words of encouragement, ask them questions about their days, talk about their friends, etc. It will show them that you are part of their life – even from a distance.
These are just a few that my mother used with me and we are using now. There is a Survival Guide that you can also read on how to being a Long Distance Glamma.
Being a Long Distance Glamma can be difficult. But, we can make it better. If you have any other ideas to share with us, please leave us with your thoughts.
Enjoy your grands – no matter where they are!
Kathleen Ridley Cheek