Raising Max without the love and support of our family has not been easy. There are the practical challenges of not being able to call up the grandparents to grant us a much needed parental time out and we’ve had to learn things on the job so to speak rather than benefit from the wise words of those who have been there and done that. But far more gut wrenching than that is that we know they are missing out on Max growing up and Max misses out on their wrinkly smiles.
Max is a virtual baby growing up in front of their eyes on a computer screen. They see him smile, laugh and cry, but miss the small habits and behaviours that he shares only with us and make him Max. He recognises the Skype ringtone and comes bounding into the room to see who it is who wants to see him point, dance, wave and peek-a-boo for their amusement. It’s fair to say Max has gone viral, like the cat that plays the keyboard. I made the mistake of Skyping my parents recently without Max, thinking it would be nice to have a little catch up minus the main attraction, and was politely but promptly asked to beckon the boy.
Max is now so familiar with the virtual wrinklies that he will say “nanna” and point at the computer screen, this habit is equal parts adorable and heart breaking. To their credit the grandparents are doing what grandparents should and spoiling him at every opportunity, he receives brown packages at regular intervals (and they don’t smell like his brown packages), I’m sure the postman suspects we are running an elaborate drugs cartel, chock full of toys, books and clothes.
We braved the 30 hour flights to Good Ol Blighty in the early days when Max was 6 months and was largely mute and immobile, he is neither now. What was meant to be a beautiful moment at the airport when my Dad (who has opted for the unconventional title of G-Paps) was handed Max for the first time was ruined by Max howling like a hostage. We had 4 weeks with our families and it was such a welcome novelty to hand him over to someone else, pour a stiff gin and tonic, sit back and enjoy watching on as everyone got acquainted.
One of the few positives to come out of the situation is knowing that we have shaped this amazing little boy, just the two of us all on our own, and that makes us immensely proud. From a personal point of view I have dodged any well intentioned tutorials on nappy changing or bath time, I’m a graduate of the school of stubborn and like to make my own mistakes, and as you’ve probably noticed I’ve made a few.
The Mother-in-Law is making the long journey next month and it will be fantastic to see the two of them enjoying one another’s company. I’m sure when it comes time to saying goodbye again we will be left asking “why does Australia have to be so far from everywhere else?” After all I have firsthand experience of how special the relationship with grandparents can be.