Grandparent’s Secret Handshake

I went to check my mail and my neighbor met me out front.  John is a great neighbor.  He and his wife Marilyn regularly babysit Dexter (as we babysit theirs).  You remember Dexter:


Not only are they neighbors whom we trust with our house keys, but they were a large part of Boy’s youth; they were the next door neighbor grandparents.

So, we’re out in the front yard talking about life and I give him a head’s up that I’ll be traveling again soon to babysit Sweet E for an entire week.  WHEEE!  There’s a small lull in the convo and then he asks, “Everything OK?”

Lawsy, lately I’m as transparent as Saran Wrap.

I start, “You know how you’re so excited to see those wonderful babies (he has two)?”

“Yep.”  (he really talks like that)

“While I am thrilled that I’ve been asked back and get to spend this time with E, I can’t help but remember how hard it was to leave them the last time and, damn, it’s the saddest thing to me.” (I try hard not to cry here)

John nods, and dare I say has the beginnings of a tear in his eye.

“I wouldn’t trade that Boy and Girl are comfortable with me there and trust me with their sweet baby, but how the hell did you do it all those years?!”  (his grands are STATES away)

He thinks for a minute, then gives me the grandparent secret handshake: “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Not being able to see them….it was hard.”

While the joy of being a grandparent is a given, the less talked about heartache of being a grandparent is that each time you separate from those amazing miracles it cuts you to the marrow.

Thus, the bawling in the car as you drive home and skipping your favorite burger joint because you just. don’t. have. the. appetite.  Yep, it’s that bad.  Nary an exaggeration in those last two sentences.

I will thrill in each lovely moment of this visit; I will.  I will shun the reality that soon I must go home and leave behind not only Sweet E, but Boy and Girl as well.

When I get in the car to drive home, I’ll remember John’s words: It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I’m thankful he showed me the secret handshake because there’s strength in knowing others have been where you are and have survived.  There’s also strength in knowing one day I’ll pass the handshake on to another, allowing them some peace in their pain.

I’ll also remember that only when one is given the gift of loving this deeply has one lived.  I’m grateful for the blessing TO LIVE!

Sure, it makes my eyes leak, but I’m grateful.

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  1. Brenda Nava says

    My first grand child is 2 1/2 years old I was in the delivery room with my daughter as she brought Maddilyn Mae into the world,I cried and felt so blessed I had such a great love for this little person that I had just seen arrive into the world and into our lives.
    People say it is diffrent for everyone.
    In my case I just felt an overwhelming feeling of joy and love that is hard for me to explain and for some people to understand…This is my daughter Alys first child she was 20 years old when she gave birth and still living at home with me so My grandaughter has lived with her mommy and myself here in my home from birth,now my daughter is doing very well at work where she has been for 4 years now and is ready to move on and out of the house, I really am dreding this day…I am so used to having My lady Bug here at home with me everyday and I am the one that is with her while my daughter works,It is going to be very hard for me to let them go and not see my grandaughter every day, I cry just thinking about it…I know I have to let go and be grateful for the time I had with her and learn to accept that I will not see her everyday. I know that I will survive but its so hard to let go. Reading your story put a smile on my face and put my mind a little at ease knowing that I will make it through and survive.
    Thank you for sharing :))

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      I think the feeling of sadness when we leave our grandchildren runs parallel to when our own kiddos left for college or moved away from home. We know it’s going to be fine, but it’s really our own desire to keep them close. I like my chickadees under my protective wing! I have often said I’m very European when it comes to family; let’s all live together! (Boy just groaned!)

  2. Aw! What a sweet bond! I’m in the middle of the parenting days. It makes me wonder what it will be like someday to be a grandparent!

  3. I had next door neighbor grandparents when I was little. Even though I lived in the same town with all my extended family and saw my real grandparents almost every day, I really cherished my MawMaw and PawPaw next door.

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      That’s really is sweet. I keep that in mind as we are now becoming the older parents in our neighborhood.

  4. I found you at the SomewhatSimple link party and enjoyed this article. What a tender story. I have better appreciation for my parents as we leave and they have to go in the house while we get to go home with the baby. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      Omgosh, this is officially my favorite comment of the day. Thank you for coming by and leaving us your thoughts. On behalf of all of us crybaby parents, we thank you.

  5. Thanks for sharing at Domestic Superhero Sharing Thursdays!

  6. OK – Now you are making me cry! I miss my folks so much and it’s even harder now that I have two adorable babies. What a brilliant perspective outside of my own. Thanks for sharing at Family Fun Friday!

  7. Carol Covin says

    I love this post. I have one grandchild near and one far. We see the far one several times a year, but, fortunately, her Mom is an avid photographer who delights us with photos on Twitter.

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      Thank you. I have just the one at this point, and even though we are only 5 hours apart it feels longer, heart-wise.

  8. Oh how sweet… truely is like a secret handshake itsn’t it? I’ve been able to help out other new grparents with my tears and feelings; but as the kids get older, it’s hard on THEM too! We have our own special saying that seems to help all these years the older ones have lived in CA. “Don’t be sad because it’s over, be happy that it happened” (Dr. suess) We say this to each other thru our tears and it seems to help with the goodbyes.

  9. Do have a wonderful time with your grandbabies…take lots of pictures so that you can remember every second! Happy Weekend!

  10. This is such a wonderful post and I am so lucky to be one of the lucky few to be a “local grandma”. But I do remember the pain my own father used to suffer with when we would go home to California. I think it was extra hard for him since he had missed so much of my childhood. Sending you all lots of strength!

  11. It is hard, isn’t it? I’m currently blessed by living near one set of grandkids. So when I go to visit and leave to go home I am also going back to another set of grandkids. That definitely helps. Someday that may change and I know it will be much harder. But, as you wisely point out, always SO well worth it!

  12. Wanda Ann @ Memories by the Mile says

    What a touching story, I can totally relate. Our oldest son lives by us and we get to spend a lot of time with our 2 granddaughters. They get to go with us on vacations and day trips all the time. We love it!
    Our daughter lives almost 10 hours away with our other 5 little grandchildren. We try to go see them as much as we can, it’s the hardest thing in the world to be missing out on so much of their growing up. The three oldest lived with us for a couple of years and we’ve always been so close to them. I’m like you I love the European family. Love all the comments too! Being a grandparent is the greatest blessing in my life.
    Wanda Ann @ Memories by the Mile

  13. Such a beautiful post…

  14. Even though we are only two hours away, I am always a little bit jealous of the other grandparents because they live in the same town as our shared grand children.

    You did a lovely job of capturing the feeling when they leave us or we leave them.

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      It’s tough, no doubt about it, but I’m grateful this is my biggest problem in life right now! (I’ll be leaving on Saturday. No doubt crying all the way home….sans my favorite hamburger.)


  1. Friday Baby Shower #25 - CKD reset theme says:

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