I feel obligated to start with this disclaimer: I’m very aware that my family is incredibly, exceptionally blessed to have had all the stars in the grandparent universe line up in our favor.
My parents (Mimi and Pa Pa) and my in-laws (Bà and Ông– the Vietnamese names for grandparents) are nearby, involved, and love our boys like crazy. We live less than ten minutes away from both sets of grandparents; both sets keep the boys on different days so that I can go to work three days each week; both sets are happy to keep them day or night as needed. We could not ask for better grandparents. It’s hard to capture the full extent of how fortunate we are to have hit this grandparent jackpot in a single paragraph.
And with that being said, it’s inevitable that while practicing social distancing, we are missing these grandparents painfully in so many ways.
I miss catching up with my mom or mother-in-law in the mornings when I drop the boys off before heading into work. I miss picking them up in the evenings and occasionally accepting a dinner invitation since I’m already there.
I miss them being just a phone call away for when I’m drowning in the throes of motherhood and need an extra hand. And I miss their joy-filled babysitting, for an afternoon, for a date night, and especially for a sleepover.
I miss the entirety of our village.
I miss my aunt and my own grandma keeping the baby in the morning so I can drop the toddler off at preschool without trying to juggle both boys at once. I miss my sister popping in to say hello and shower them with extra attention. I miss hearing about my son’s Wednesday Chick-Fil-A dates with his cousins.
My three year old misses them just as terribly. He knows, on a toddler level, that things are closed because some people are sick, and we are waiting patiently for everyone to be healthy again. He knows we stay back and away from people so we don’t get sick, and vice versa. We stay at home because we care. But knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. He believes his grandparents’ houses are “closed” like his school and the stores. “Is Mimi’s house open yet?” he’ll ask. Or, “I think Bà is home and her house is open for me to visit!”
We’ve done a couple of “driveway visits” where we stay the length of the driveway apart; we wave from car seats to doorways; my mom has come and read books to my sons from the opposite end of the sidewalk. It’s hard to constantly remind my energetic toddler to stay back, not to run to his grandparents, not to hug them. We FaceTime often, but sometimes that frustrates him and we need to end the call to preserve some peace in the house. All the technology at our disposal is beyond amazing, but it still can’t replace the solidity and warmth of an honest-to-goodness hug.
This separation has made the gratitude we’ve always had for our parents as grandparents grow even larger. To our Mimi, Pa Pa, Bà, and Ông– we love you, we miss you, and we keep back because we care. We cannot wait to be reunited– around the dinner table and in your arms. And I know we are ALL ready for that first sleepover back at your house!