In praise of grandmas, and how to get away with murder

This blog was originally published on a different site, 8/12/16

In our increasingly small and inter-connected, transient world, relationships and breakups can get really complicated. My own situation, whereby I live in Glasgow with my two cubs, their dad is in New York and their only living (sadly) grandparent lives in Lisbon is an example, albeit quite colourful.

You can’t exactly nip round to granny for a cuppa or ask her to babysit when you’re 2 1/2 hours on easyJet apart. Skype is fantastic but it can’t beat a cuddle from a real live person.

So, last week Avó (grandma in Portuguese) came to town for a visit. When I say she didn’t know what to expect from Glasgow, I truly mean it. (Half the time I was married, my ex’s relatives would ask me all about what we did in Ireland.)

So, it was a lovely thing to find that not only was she delighted to be here for oldest cub’s birthday but that she loved Glasgow. Like, really loved it.

We were out and about the whole time, shopping, eating and cooking. (More of that later.) We ate pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) in Clarkston, had a fabulous celebratory meal in the West End overlooking the Botanic Gardens and were in more supermarkets over five days than I’ve been in five months. And I can shop.

It was lovely. She completely took over my kitchen and I let her because, truth be told, I couldn’t have stopped her if I tried. She happens to be a fantastic cook so, you know, I wasn’t exactly complaining.

I used pictures of her food so much on Instagram, I dubbed her «Instagranma» for the week.

And the cubs? She spoiled them rotten, in the way that only grandparents can. Too much food, too many treats, never enough love. They were in heaven. Any time I suggested a more austere approach three weeks before Christmas, I was shushed. Loudly.

She and I had affectionate fights in local supermarkets over who was paying, purses brandished at the ready. The girls are devastated that she’s gone back and I’m feeling a distinct pang when I realise that it’s now all back on me, cooking, cleaning, ironing, cuddling.

But we’ll survive. Because we know she’ll be back and that we will go there and that, even in messy breakups, family ties survive. There’s no escaping it. We’re family for a reason and if we lose that, we all miss out.

Haste ye back, Avó.

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