My little brood have been gone for a week now. And a strange thing has happened.
I miss them terribly. But I’m now getting used to going into their empty home twice a day to feed the cats and take in Amazon parcels without being greeted by their warm little cuddles.
Perhaps it’s because there’s only one more week to go until they get back. Goodness knows how I’d feel if they lived on the other side of the world like many of my granny friends’ offspring.
“You get used to it,” says one of them. But there is a sad look in her eyes. Once more I count my blessings that mine are (almost) on the doorstep.
Meanwhile, I’m in holiday mode myself while waiting for my editorial notes. This happens after you deliver a book to your publishers for next year. The editor reads it through and makes suggestions. It then comes back as a massive file and you have to make track changes on it. It’s one of those things which seems horribly complicated to begin with but which you get used to. A bit like family life.
Last week, I was at my wits’ end without either grandchildren or work. But now my brain seems to have calmed down a bit. Or has it?
Instead, I’m directing all my energies into a massive clear out.
“Don’t you ever sit down?” says my husband of 10 years as he limps across the kitchen floor, determined not to use his crutches. (I know – but he won’t listen to me.)
Actually, I find it really therapeutic to tidy out cupboards which I simply don’t have time to when I’m a full on granny and writer.
But what’s this in an old chest of drawers? Little notes from when the children were at school! Not to mention stacks of clothes that no longer fit them but which I haven’t been able to throw away.
There’s also a pile of Shirley Hughes books as well as a lovely series written by Val Willis (their old teacher) which will be perfect for Rose and George! And – this is the best thing of all – a St Christopher silver necklace which my beloved godmother had given to me at the age of 12. When my youngest son was in his teens, he’d asked if he could borrow it and never returned it. We presumed it was lost so you can imagine my joy when I found it.
I ring to tell him. The said culprit (now 28) is firmly ensconced in the pub. “Cool, Mum,” he says.
I wonder if he realises exactly how much it means to me. My St Christopher brings back wonderful childhood memories of holidays in the Isle of Wight where my godmother had a cottage. We had very little money as a family and if my godmother hadn’t asked us to the island, we would not have gone away. I will always be grateful to her for that.
And right now, my grandchildren are in the middle of making their own history in Spain.
As if on cue, the WhatsApp rings. “Gan, Gan!” trills my granddaughter. “I went swimming today and put my face under the water!”
This is a big step. Like me, she doesn’t like to mess up her hair.
Then little George looms into view.
“Tell Gan Gan your new word,” prompts my daughter.
“Hola!” he says immediately with an authentic-sounding accent.
It has to be said here that George’s vocabulary is not as advanced as his sister’s was at this age – this is apparently quite common with second children.
“Maybe,” says my husband, “he’s more naturally drawn to foreign languages. I’ll have to teach him to say “Don’t touch my vinyls in Spanish!”
My husband is only joking. He misses the children as much as I do. In fact whenever they’re on WhatsApp, he is the first to grab the phone and give George a high-five on screen.
“Are you getting any sleep?” I ask my daughter and son-in-law.
“Not much,” they say cheerfully. “But that’s because the children fall asleep during the day with the heat and then don’t go to bed.”
So much for their instructions to me about not letting Rose and George nod off on my watch at home!
“I’m not sure how we’ll get them into a regular routine when we get back,” says my daughter.
“You will,” I say reassuringly. “I used to worry about the same thing when we took you three away.”
That’s the beauty of being a granny. In fact it’s a bit like childbirth. You think you’ve forgotten how to do it but it all comes back. On the other hand, there is a fine line between giving them advice as an old hand and letting them make their own mistakes – a vital part of parenthood.
“By the way,” I say. “I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up in your old room.”
“Don’t throw anything away,” she instantly commands.
“Of course not,” I say.
Then I hastily nip out to the dustbin to retrieve everything. So much for creating more space! It’s far more important to keep the family peace…
I Looked Away – my new Penguin psychological thriller about a gran with a secret past is out now. You can order through https://amzn.to/2Lq2rew and https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Looked-Away/23635139