In less than a week, Grammy and Grandpa Fawcett will land in Edinburgh to spend some quality time with Paul, Ben, Bump and I. Ben is thrilled and can’t wait to have “his time” with Grammy and Grandpa. I’m excited because we are waiting on Bump’s arrival and it is quite exciting that my dad will be here this time for the baby’s birth. Since he is retired now, he can spend a long visit with us whereas he arrived a week after Ben was born last time and only had a week’s holiday to be with us. It is difficult to be so far from each other during these big moments in life and especially when children are involved because Ben has very little in person time with his American relatives to really get to know them. Yet, this distance is not nearly as bad as it was a generation ago. I remember having awkward family gatherings growing up where you spent the first couple days of a week’s visit getting to know your grandparents and other relatives again before you fell back into a familiar pattern and really spent quality time together. I have amazing letters from both my nanny and grandmother from these years – they were my penpals which definitely helped keep us familiar with each other when we did get to visit in person, but it is so much better these days and that’s all thanks to Skype.
We started Skyping home when we were waiting on Ben’s arrival five years ago. Mum was recently retired and traveled over to support us and keep me company for two months (one month before Ben arrived and for a full month after). That was a really long time for mum and dad to be separated so we joined up to Skype for them to stay connected and see each other. Ben’s first time on Skype was the first minutes he was home in our flat from the hospital. Mum was chatting to dad when we arrived home with our newborn. Dad enjoyed his cup of coffee in New Jersey while he saw his grandson in Edinburgh for the first time through the computer screen. He watched Paul and I as we figured out a lot of new parents things in those first moments at home with Ben. When he arrived a week later to visit, Dad had already logged in a couple hours of screen time with wee Ben and the bond was forming.
We chat with my family every week on Skype, sometimes more than once – especially now that both mum and dad are retired. Ben eats dinner chatting to them. He plays games with my dad and shows them what he is building with his toys. Dad read bedtime stories to Ben on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Eve this year Paul and I were able to tell my parents about the new baby on the way. Sometimes Ben makes a train out of his toy boxes and puts grandpa on the IPad in the back of the train to go on imaginary train journies. They have watched him grow up and it is beautiful to see. What is even more amazing is that when we are physically in the same place, there is no awkwardness or getting to know you time. Ben runs for them at the airport and immediately goes in for cuddles. He takes their hands and walks out of airports with them as if he sees them everyday. It means the limited time we have in person is always quality time because Ben already knows them so well. I am really looking forward to this when they arrive this week and watching Ben with his grandparents over the next three weeks. Meanwhile, we will be Skyping home to see Uncle Sean and also Uncle Chris and his family once Bump arrives so Bump can meet his/her cousins and family straight away.
I do wish we were physically closer to our family and could see them in person much more often, but at least with the ability to Skype each other, we are never really apart and can stay connected and part of each other’s lives. I am quite thankful for that!