Use The Force Granny

I was eighteen when I stood next to my sister and watched her become a married woman. She was in her twenties and very much in love. It took roughly six months before I began to hear people asking either her or my mother about future babies in the family. Both of them weren’t keen on the idea. And in a methinks the lady doth protest too much manner, others insisted that both my mother and sister would change their minds. They were sure my sister would be struck by the maternal urge, and my mother would immediately become an overly excited Grandmother at the news.

They were right about my mother.

My childless sister on the other hand, continues to enjoy a good sleep-in on a weekend and is a fabulous Aunt to the little travellers. She had the last babyless laugh.

My mother watched her friends become grandparents and couldn’t quite understand why they had lost their minds. She was bemused while friends shared what seemed like endless photos of new babies, and found herself having to get used to once again having little people (other people’s little people) join them at functions.

And then it happened. Eighteen months after G and I were married the first little traveller arrived. My parents popped the champagne with friends and then drove to the city to see their first grandchild. My mother took one look at the first little traveller and that was it. She became Granny Max or as my friends refer to her Granny to the Max. We had entered a whole new world as a family. In that moment in the hospital room we all became new characters in a brand new play.

And then we did the unthinkable. Eleven days later G and I left the country – with Granny Max’s first born grandchild.

I have had many people feel the need to tell me how they couldn’t “do” our expat life because they couldn’t “do” that to their parents.

I understand their position, probably more so when it’s not said with enormous judgement.

In the old days I used to explain that we were living in Perth before we began traveling overseas. I reasoned that if we were still living in Perth we would both be working and be limited to school holidays and sharing our trips between Queensland and Adelaide. That was in the old days, I don’t bother explaining anymore. I usually make a crack about Granny Max needing a good few months to get the house back to its original state after we leave. Which actually isn’t a joke, it’s true.

Expat life has provided some amazing opportunities for time with our parents. We’ve hung out in foreign countries, climbed temples, wandered through old churches, sat in cable cars, and looked out over the bay in San Francisco. You can spot expat families in a crowd, they’re the ones looking just a little bit freaked out that they are all together so far from home. My mother has been with me in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Libya and Canada. G’s family have wheeled strollers and visited parks and maternity wards in Canada, Malta and Malaysia. For the first ten years of our expat life aka our PB years: pre beach house, I lobbed at my parents house for weeks and occasionally months with very small children. My mother has a shed which is loaded with bikes, sandpits, helmets, car seats, and whatever my children have left behind from their last visit. Her house begins to resemble a well stocked daycare centre when we land in Australia.

Expat life has meant that although Granny hasn’t been able to do a set Tuesday night babysit or an every Sunday for lunch she has been able to have the other option, the I’m going to come and live with you for a few weeks option. This means breakfast, lunch and dinner along with nights filled with wine and long chats. These are our memories.

During the week the little travellers made a video for Granny, it was a short and sweet Happy Birthday. The eldest little traveller “directed” and the cast cleverly just did as they were told. Granny tells me she has watched it about eleventy billion times since Sunday. The invisible power of a grandchild – they are mini Luke Skywalkers sharing the force between them. As they call out to her from the screen – use the force Granny she is completely lured by their binding, metaphysical, ubiquitous power.

It doesn’t matter where you are, grandchildren and grandparents don’t work in miles or locations. They can be galaxies apart. The force will always be there.

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