Honorary Grandma!

MY VIEWS, PARENTING | | September 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Grandparents are usually an uncomfortable topic in my home. Scratch that, it is a non-existent topic. My parents were dead even before I married. Just before my daughter was born hubby’s dad died. With his mom living overseas there was not much of a grandma involvement. Family was of the utmost importance to me and I tried keeping relationships alive, sending cards and updates often. At 10 months my baby traveled with us to meet her grandma and all images of what I imagined crashed. Cultures and distance were too much of a divide and not even a baby could bridge that gap. We thought maybe if she came to where we lived things may be different. We tried it after my second kid was born and was then 3 years old but the bond never appeared. My insides wailed at the prospect of them never knowing grandparents. She died a year later so even my futile hopes of that happening later, died with her.

My sisters had never met my little girls as they lived in South Africa. A mixture of finances and lack of effort keep them from visiting. A mixture of finances and fear of regression (for my daughter with Autism) keeps me from making the trip. I have a sister who lives in California who has seen one of my kids but she is is saddled with 2 special needs kids so her load is heavy enough, plus sometimes you just grow apart and honestly we have such difference of opinions conversations started feeling forced. So to cut a long (even though I thought that was a highly edited version) story short our family is not a huge part of our lives outside of the annual holiday cards (which is sent in one direction only). Well correction, my family by blood may not be I do have “family”.

I came to this country alone. I had never been to the USA or met anyone, other than the guy from a company who traveled to South Africa and offered me a job here. By day 1 I knew I had to make friends, fast! And I did. The good part about being alone, is you get brave and in a new country and you don’t have past images of yourself to hold you back. So I made friends. A lot of them. Hubby joked that I would pick friends from everywhere, and that had a grain of truth in it. When we have joint birthday parties for my girls we have around 100 people, not bad for someone who has no family here, right?

So amongst those gazillion friends, I made an extremely special friend, who happens to be from South Africa too but I had met her here. I knew her before I met my husband and through many of my life changes. Just before I married she moved to Seattle and I am still holding out that the girl will regain her senses and move back to Boston. So my pseudo sister became part of my life and I kinda borrowed her mom too. Her mom was everything a mom should be. She cooked heavenly, and took care of every small aspect that you would miss. When I had my children, she naturally came to see them. Did I mention that her mom lived in South Africa? So the visits were not easy but whenever she came to see her daughter she would fly from one coast to the other just to see me and the girls.

We got swept with our lives and honestly the diagnosis of Autism for my kid sucked much time and energy from our life, though I can say today that I am glad we invested, and continue to invest time in helping my baby. Somehow this grandma made her presence felt. She never missed a single birthday. Not a single one. She called from South Africa. Thanks to time difference I missed several calls but the fact that someone remembered made my day. Often it was the only call, and I knew that she was a part of our family. When my friend visited her mom back in South Africa she shared that they pics we sent had found a home in a perfect spot, which she termed as a shrine. I found that heartwarming that someone made us a part of their life, thousands of miles away. In our tradition when a baby is born we bestow a gift of gold to the baby. Since I have no parents I don’t hold onto those as I am realistic about expectations. She has kept each one of those little traditions. She has taken being a grandma to heart and that makes me blessed to know her. She has even been here for their first haircuts, which was when they were a few months old (yeah my girls were born with a lot of hair)

Once hubby had to travel and it was the first time I would be alone with both kids and I thought it was impossible to put both kids down to sleep at the same time (so glad things are easier now) so her mom arranged to be here for that week. I love her. I love her wonderful daughter who happens to be my best friend in the world. As I write this she is in the USA for a visit and I would be lying if I did not admit that I am giddy with excitement to see her soon. More than that, I am so eager for her to see the kids. Best of all? Now that the girls are older, I can’t wait for them to meet the famous “PE nani” (PE for Port Elizabeth – the place she stays, and nani is what we call the mom’s mom in Hindi).

To our honorary grandma, we can’t wait to see you. Love, the entire family here in Boston!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, and part of me being a “Hallmark, Life is a special occasion ambassador”. Personally loving the opportunity to share a window to my life.



  1. 1

    I always say family is not about blood- it’s about relationships and who you choose to bring into your life, and well Niri clearly you’ve made some INCREDIBLE choices!!

  2. 2

    This is a beautiful post and PE nani sounds like a wonderful stand in grandma. Sometimes our family does extend beyond the ones that we are born with and that’s what LOVE is all about.

  3. 3
    Kamani says:

    She sure is everything you describe and more…..even though we seen her a few times she has touched our hearts as well

  4. 4
    Kamesh says:

    MommmyNiri. Tears rolled as we acknowledged the special place we both hold in our hearts for you and your family.
    Thank you, we are truely blessed to have these moments that we share together.Love You.

  5. 5
    Mommy Niri says:

    Seeing your beautiful faces just made this day extra special

  6. 6
    Richa Verna says:

    While growing up in India my grandparents were an integral part of my life. We stayed in a joint family and celebrated everything together. During summer holidays we visited our maternal grandparents which was always a lot of fun.. I really feel sad that my kids are missing out on that aspect of life :( As you said, even visits to India are not the same anymore. They do visit here sometimes but the long flight is becoming difficult for them now..
    I think you are very lucky in having found this friend and her mom in your life.. :) I guess I have to start working towards finding a “nani/dadi” for my kids here soon.. :)

    • 6.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Ahh Richa, so hard to connect when you are new. Everyone seems to already have their “people” and too busy to make the effort. A lot of efforts to connect were in vain but the ones that make it through are worth the effort. Good luck friend and hoping your sweet ones know how much you care about this

  7. 7
    Isra says:

    What a beautiful post! I grew up without grandparents on both sides and it is something I always wished for, was to be close to ‘Grandma’ You are giving your girls something so special with PE Nani!

  8. 8
    Manisha says:

    Very touching indeed. I admire PE nani and I am sure your girls will always cherish her. I can relate to this since my kids adore their nani; she’s is the second mother for them.
    I think you deserve all the love you have in your life…

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