To the Grandparents of Ireland on Grandparents Day: We value you now, more than ever before

This year we have learned many things: How to make our kids understand what is going on, even when we hardly understand ourselves. How to make working from home, work. How to keep each other safe. How it feels when we fail to keep each other safe. How to adapt. However, the most important thing we have learned this year is how much you mean to us.

We never knew how hard it would be to stay away from you to keep you safe. We watched you shiver outside against the Spring winds, just to spend a blustery moment within a few meters of us as your tea turned cold. We placed your shopping on your doorstep, laughing and making light of these ‘uncertain’ and ‘strange times’. On the inside, we were fighting the urge to run into your arms.  

Thank you for learning to use video chat, even if we only ever saw half of your smiling face on the screen. Thank you for being patient when the signal failed or the audio went out of synch. Thank you for beaming at the little ones, even when they had little interest in their on-screen version of you. Thank you for being happy to see us, even when there was not much to see.

Thank you for waving at us lovingly through windows and matching your handprint to ours through glass. Thank you for the texts you wrote, even though it took you longer than it would have to send us a letter. Thank you for hanging art on your window, no matter how it looked.

We missed your stories and your wise words and your terrible jokes. We missed eating with you, laughing with you, venting to you about school or work or parenting. We missed your advice and your anecdotes. We missed your love and support more than we ever thought we would. Most of all we missed your hugs.

In June we stood after months of being apart, unable to express how much it meant to be in your presence once again. To talk to you over a cup of tea, still two meters apart. It was amazing to see you up close. To watch your face for signs of hope. To hear you laugh without a screen or glass between us. Your knowing eyes and hopeful words made us feel calmer than we’d felt in weeks. You made the little ones feel like heroes when you told them how brave they were and how much they had grown. Yet, we could still feel the absence of a hug hanging in the air like a promise.

This day last year, we walked arm and arm. This day last year we hugged. Maybe this day next year we’ll hug again, unmasked and without a care in the world. This thought gives us hope at a time when hope is scarce. Thank you for giving us hope.

With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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