So how was your Mother’s Day?
Every time I say those words, I can hear my own mother’s voice in my head – despite the fact that she died 34 years ago. “It’s not ‘Mother’s Day’, she used to say. ‘It’s Mothering Sunday!’”
I don’t know about you but this time of year always takes me back to when I was a child and the things we would do for our mother on this special day. I would always make up a poem for her and insist that my younger sister played an accompanying tune on her recorder. We would then march into our parents’ bedroom with a fanfare!
Indeed, this has become a tradition. I still write poems for members of my family on special days – and my children do the same for me. They don’t always rhyme. But that doesn’t matter. My youngest sent me one during those years when I brought him up alone, which went like this. “To Mum on Mother’s Day. I love you very much. I want you to know this because I’m afraid that you’ll forget.”
But mothers never forget, do we? And nor do grandparents. Even during separations like lockdown.
Last Sunday, I managed to have an outdoor exercise walk with my daughter which was lovely.
Even though we live just round the corner from each other, we don’t always have time together to catch up. As some of you know, I’m part of a childcare bubble with her because of my daughter’s arthritis. But our chat tends to be about the children and practicalities.
Back to school
Top of our “must chat about” list, of course, is the return to school. I know from your emails that many of you have mixed feelings about this – and that’s understandable. I feel the same. I want my grandchildren to get back to normality but I’m also worried about the virus being passed on.
Both Little Rose and George couldn’t wait to go back. In fact, they simply flew in. I only know this third-hand because my daughter took them. To be honest, I’m still a bit nervous about standing in line with the other mums. Even though I’ve had my first injection, I’ll be happier when we’ve had the second. Does anyone else feel like that?
During the week, I have the children for tea when my daughter had to collect the car from the garage. “Watch out for that door handle!” I call out as they whizz by. Wow! They’re lively!
Not surprising really. It’s because they’re so excited about returning to normality.
By the end of the week, little Rose is definitely tired. She’s even too tired to chat on the phone. All she wants to do is curl up on the sofa with Mummy.
Then again, no wonder she’s feeling subdued. We’ve just spent four months at home telling them we can’t go near anyone and then suddenly they’re back in the throng! Rose loves seeing her friends but like many of us, it’s going to take time for us to adjust to our old routines.
“I feel really nervous about mixing with others,” says a granny friend of mine. “I know I’m going to feel the same even when all the restrictions are lifted.”
Maybe it’s something we simply face when it comes. “I know three people who haven’t been able to leave their house for other reasons in the last few years. I don’t want to become like that,” says another friend. “It’s all too easy to get stuck.”
Our new back-to-school routine has also had some surprising effects on the parents. One of my younger friends, who is in her 40s, has really been looking forward to her children going back to school as she was struggling with home-schooling.
“My mum helped out as she was in her bubble,’ she says. ‘But now I rather miss the geography and history lessons we did! We’ve always been a close family but I think it brought us even closer.”
During the last few weeks, my daughter joked that she was going to spend the first morning of freedom in bed. And she did!
“I treated myself to a cup of tea and lunch curled up on the duvet and finished off my current favourite Netflix series,” she tells me. “I also caught up with friends on the phone.”
“Good for you,” I assure her. “If there’s one thing I’ve learnt as a mum, it’s that you need to allow yourself a break at times. If you were at work, you’d have a lunch hour, wouldn’t you?”
“Thanks, Mum,” she says.
Sometimes we all need to relax when we can! As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Mind you, I’m terrible at chilling out. In fact, the longer lockdown goes on, the more I feel the urge to fill every minute.
Meanwhile, I’ve been filling in the census form online. It’s much simpler than I thought.
“Is it obligatory?” asks my 97-year-old father when I ring for our daily chat.
“Yes, it is,” I explain.
“Do I have to put in the number of people coming in and out of the house even if they don’t live here?” he asks.
“What?’” I say. “Who have you allowed inside?”
“No one,” he says. “I suppose it’s a good historical record, isn’t it?”
Funnily enough, I’ve just ordered some old census forms to do some family research. The older I get, the more I feel I want to write a family tree for future generations.
Have you done yours? I used to run writing classes on this with some quick and easy ways tips. One method is to write down a list of things you did for the first time, such as ‘Your first school’; ‘Your first friend’; ‘Your first job’; ‘Your first holiday’ and so on.
All you need to do is write a few lines on each. Just imagine how fascinating that will be for your great-great-grandchildren! There’s still time to do it before lockdown ends. If you’d like to share some early memories, please contact us via the email address at the end.
P.S. Have a Laugh!
What is the funniest thing your grandchildren has said to you? I can’t stop smiling from something that George said this week. We were doing some craft work at the kitchen table. It was all extremely messy with paints and water and glue.
My husband was having a conversation with a friend on the phone about lockdown. “I suppose we just need to have patience,” he was saying.
“We’ve run out,” piped up George instantly.
He was actually talking about a tube of blue paint which was finished. But we all burst into laughter because it sounded as though he had run out of patience too!
Do email me with your children or grandchildren’s funny sayings.
Grandparent of the Week – Janet
Janet, 65, lives in Sheffield with her husband Peter and their eight-year-old grandson Jamie. They also have three other grandchildren (Lexi, 7, Tom, 4 and Logan, 3) who live round the corner. Janet is a member of the Grandparents Plus Kinship Community and was recently elected to the Children’s Social Care Review.
“Jamie, our eldest daughter’s son, came to live with us when my youngest son left home. He was one then. We have what is known as ‘kinship care’ of Jamie.
“I generally get up at about 7.15 although I will have been awake since 6am. We’ll have breakfast together and do Jamie’s reading before school. He’s been at school during this last lockdown because he’s classed as being vulnerable. It was a difficult decision to make because we had to balance our grandson’s mental needs against our physical ones. I’ve had two heart attacks and also cancer so we’re aware of the dangers of Covid coming home from school. There was a week during lockdown when Jamie had to spend a week with his auntie because of Covid in school. Now I’ve had my first injection, I feel more protected.
“I’ll go for a walk in the morning and at some point during the day, Pete and I will help out with our grandchildren round the corner. Until this week when the schools went back, I’ve been homeschooling Lexi. It was difficult for my daughter-in-law to do that with the little ones around!
“When Jamie comes back from school, we do homework, play games and maybe do some science experiments. He loves anything to do with chemistry and electronics!
“I do get tired and am often asleep by 8pm on the sofa. Pete and I had had plans to go backpacking but that’s on hold now. It may never happen but I wouldn’t not have it this way. Family is more important.
“I was really pleased to be elected to the Children’s Social Care Review recently. We’d like to hear from any grandparents or relatives who are looking after children in care. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, the website is www.childrenssocialcare.independent-review.uk
For details about the kindship community of Grandparents Plus, check out www.kinship.org.uk.
Do Get In Touch
If you would like to tell us about your situation as a grandparent during lockdown, please email me at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
JANE CORRY is the author of five best-selling thrillers, published by Penguin. Her latest novel I Made A Mistake is about Betty, a grandmother who lives with her son’s family. Available in paperback (£7.99) and also as an e-book and audio, narrated by Emilia Fox. http://bit.ly/IMadeaMistake OR https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Made-a-Mistake/24376830