I’m beginning to feel as though I am missing a limb. It seems ages since I’ve had to get up at 6:30am to do an 11 hour granny day, twice a week.
I say “had to” because my daughter needs my help to go to work. Although I also love looking after little Rose and George, I must admit I was almost on my last legs by the middle of July when my daughter’s teaching term ended.
But now they’re away on their second holiday – this time with my son-in-law’s parents – and I miss them terribly.
“You have to share,” says my husband. He is only half joking. We are always explaining the tricky “your turn” concept to the grandchildren but now I need to take it on board too.
The other grandparents would love to see more of Rose and George but they are too far away. Now it’s the summer, there’s more time to get together.
When Rose and George get back from Wales, they’ll be off to see their third set of grandparents as is right and proper. (We are one of those modern extended families in which Rose assumes everybody else has six grandparents too. And yes – we all get on very well.)
But the great thing about the Welsh holiday is that Rose and George are with a brood of cousins who are all slightly older. And judging from the WhatsApp pics, they are having a high old time exploring castles, zoos and farms.
“George has grown up so fast,” says my daughter. “He’s taking in everything the others are doing.”
So is Rose who looks absolutely starstruck.
It reminds me of the lovely long summer holidays I used to have with my cousins. My aunt would always ask me down to Sussex every summer and we would swim in the sea, go for long walks and play endless card games.
As a result, we are all very close. I just know that George and Rose will be the same with their cousins. What a wonderful foundation to build.
In fact, it’s made me feel quite sentimental about the importance of family ties. It’s so easy to take relatives for granted and assume they will always be there.
So I pick up the phone to my niece. When she was very small, I sometimes had her to stay when my sister was working. I would creep in at night and check she was still breathing. Rather like the grandchildren, I was very aware of the responsibility.
My sister’s daughter is now a beautiful 24-year-old young lady with a responsible job, a car and her own flat! Of course I see her at Christmas and I always remember her birthday. But it’s just occurred to me that this isn’t enough.
“Would you like to have an aunt/niece weekend in the autumn?” I ask her.
“I’d love to,” she says in a voice that implies she really means it.
Then I suggest asking my daughter – her cousin – too. Both are really keen. My son-in-law will have the children. He’s really good at that.
But actually he’s got another idea.
“If you’re going to have a girls’ weekend,” says my son-in-law, “why don’t you take Rose too?”
Hmmmm… I can already picture the scene. One 63-year-old; one 30 something; one 20 something; and one three-year-old.
Guess who’s going to be left behind babysitting while the other two have a night on the town?
“Maybe when Rose is older,” I say diplomatically.
My summer research
We still haven’t made up my mind on this one but in the meantime, I’ve started researching family history. Since becoming a granny, I’ve realised how important it is to write down stories for future generations.
Indeed, I recently met up with a distant cousin and together we have been piecing together bits of missing dates and names.
My eldest son – also a writer – is home for a short time before setting off on his travels again. I tried to explain some of the complicated parts of the family tree.
“Just jot it down, Mum,” he says. “I can’t take it in now.”
My other two children have a similar reaction.
Maybe they’re right. It’s the kind of thing that will interest them more when they’re older. I know, to my shame, that I only listened with half an ear when my mother (now passed on) tried to explain it to me.
So before the end of the summer holidays, I’m determined to make some notes for future generations.
And one day, little Rose and George might just be doing the same for their own grandchildren.
Then I get a phone call from the youngest. “Mum,” he says. “Remember that sixty quid you promised to pay into my account?”
Oops. I’d forgotten. The only problem is that it’s a Sunday. I’m waiting for a new bankcard so I can’t do anything online until Monday when the bank opens.
“I’m pretty desperate,” he says.
So I text my daughter in Wales who says that yes, of course, she will bail out her little brother.
It seems strange to think of them doing this when it wasn’t so long ago when I gave them pocket money. I like to think it’s a sign that they will all help each other out in years to come.
It’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
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