Skip to Content

Being a Long-Distance Grandma is Difficult

This post was originally published on Nanahood. You can find out more about Becky on her own site, From Where I Sit.  Sign Up to receive her Thoughtful Thursdays newsletter via email.

long-distance grandma

My first grandbaby’s photos lit up my phone. “First day of daycare,” my son-in-law captioned. I scrolled down past the photo of my darling three-month-old granddaughter giggling. Past those bold eyes assuring me she was up for her next adventure to the one of a caregiver holding her.

A caregiver I’d never met.

I burst into tears.

“Oh my!” is all I managed to text back.

I stared into the photo, first studying my grandbaby’s cherubic face and the zoomed in on caregiver’s hands.

Were they kind? Were they loving? Were they good enough for my precious grandchild?

And the tears began in earnest.

Tripp, my faithful Puggle (half Beagle/half Pug), jumped down from the couch to make sure I was okay. I’m not sure what it is about the empty nest and my fragile emotions, but my dog can tell when I’m upset. He’ll trot over to me, sit and lean against my wheelchair and then nuzzle his snout up under my hands until I pet him.

“I’m okay, buddy,” I said, wondering if I was. Why does this perspective, this view from Nanahood, make life’s small steps so vivid, so ripe with meaning?

As I studied the hands of this caregiver, one I would probably never meet since we are separated by three time zones and 3000 miles, I flashed back through my twenty-eight years of parenting four children. How many hands had I entrusted with my children’s care? Nannies, daycare providers, babysitters, teachers, instructors, coaches, tutors—all were invited into my children’s lives.

And now, it had already begun for my grandbaby. Those hands represented the first act of letting go, a lifelong process that—as I know so well now—never ends.

Yet, it’s exciting. As big and strong and caring and loving as our parental hands are, we cannot provide everything. We need others to help us and to help our children grow.

What will these hands teach my grandbaby? What will she learn from this experience? These are the questions that keep us spiraling up and out, looking out for our children’s best interests, a lifelong pursuit.

And I smiled, thinking of all the wonderful adventures ahead for the precious little one and reached down to pet Tripp once more. But he was gone, already back on the couch, mission accomplished.

Later that day, one more photo lit up my screen.

It turns out that her teacher is also an artist. What talented hands are holding my grandchild! How exciting!

Nanahood. Got to love it. The ups, the downs, and the surprises just around the corner.

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli (Becky) is a reluctant-but-obsessed columnist who writes about love, loss, and healing. Surviving significant losses—her seventeen-year-old brother’s death; her son’s degenerative disease and subsequent death; her daughter’s autism; her divorce; and nine days later, her paralysis from transverse myelitis, a rare spinal cord inflammation that began as the flu—has fostered an unexpected but prolific writing career. In 2000, The Baltimore Sun published her first column about playing soccer with her son—from the wheelchair. Fifteen years later, with 400 published columns and a completed memoir, she launched, Thoughtful Thursdays—Lessons from a Resilient Heart.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:


Monday 25th of January 2016

Thank you for your kind words! Yes, it is difficult being so far apart. I find FaceTime is helpful but use SnapChat almost every day. It's quick, something my busy kids still find time to do. But my buddy, Tripp, is of great comfort to me. It's fun to dote on him and he's always happy to see me! I highly recommend that experience, too!


Monday 25th of January 2016

This really hit home. Four of my grandchildren are over 1000 miles away so I miss out on so much. And being a widow I have no one to help soften those blows. Thinking I need a dog. Blessings to you.

Comments are closed.
Read previous post:
Hot Buttered Rum With Ginger

This recipe is heavily adapted from one by Geoffrey Zakarian, an Iron Chef for Food Network. It contains a few...