“No longer concerned with instilling moral values, no longer in charge of discipline and rules, no longer dedicated to building character, I can go with the flow. I don’t have to deal with the worrisome and super-responsibilities of parenting. I can simply be Glamma.”

Columnist Celia Iannelli and her grandson Luca.

by Celia Iannelli

My son Jeff and his wife Cassandra recently asked if I could watch my 6-month old grandson Luca while they were on assignment.

 I jumped at the chance. 

But, this was not the over-the-hill-and-through-the-woods trek that many grandparents take to the next town or a neighboring state. Try 13 hours.

Jeff, Cassandra and Luca live in Northern California, in a remote little town called Happy Camp — yup, you read it correctly, Happy Camp.

They are both employed by the U.S. Forest Service.  Jeff is the District Ranger for the Klamath National Forest; Cassandra is a wildlife biologist.

The miles between us gives new meaning to the phrase “long distance grandparenting.”

As a first-time grandmother, I am in “Glamma” heaven (A moniker my sister bestowed on me) sans the wings. But I’m not sure I could make the cut as an angel; but If I did, a few flaps of my wings, fueled with a heart full of love would fly me to Happy Camp at will — and I wouldn’t need frequent flyer miles.

On my recent trip, Luca was a tad fussy — as most teething babies are. “Fussy” is Glamma’s interpretation of Luca’s sustained crying that cumulated into a piercing shrill.

Dollars to donuts his parents have a different take. Luca was doing his fussy thing when Jeff arrived home from long, stressful day.

Jeff gave me a quizzical look and asked: “Mom has Luca been like this all day?”

“Pretty much.”

“Really? That must have been annoying.”

“Not at all.”

Jeff picked up Luca and tried to sooth him. He did all the “Daddy stuff ” that Luca usually responds to.  Jeff looked tired and I detected some impatience.  I took Luca from Jeff, rocked him and, like magic, Luca calmed down.

Jeff had that how-did-you-do-that? expression — an expression that I remember from his childhood. (Back then, he believed that I had magical powers; not so much anymore.)

He said: “You sure have mellowed out, patience is not your strong point.”

I said: Glamma magic.

“Glamma magic?  You insisted that only Moms are magical.” 

I raised my eyebrows and returned Jeff’s quizzical look.  However, my son was right.

I had 13 hours during my return trip to figure it out.

Although some folks become bitter with age, that could never be my M.O.  Maturity should make us funnier, wiser and more mellow. Folks of a certain age wear an invisible, well-earned armor that prevents us from getting bent out of shape from everyday frustrations.

Being with Luca is different than raising my sons; I was never free to simply enjoy my kids.  

Don’t get me wrong, I adored my sons. But like many moms of today, I multitasked — and that phrase probably wasn’t even coined yet. Finishing my college degree at night, working part time during the day and raising a family had me treading carefully on a slippery slope.

Whatever patience I possessed hit the road miles back.

Nowadays, I am one step removed. No longer concerned with instilling moral values, no longer in charge of discipline and rules, no longer dedicated to building character, I can go with the flow. I don’t have to deal with the worrisome and super-responsibilities of parenting.

I can simply be Glamma.

Grandparenting can be a do-over.  I was a kid when I had my son and, although I possessed “magical” powers, I made some big-time errors along the way. There is no specific rule book for parenting, so say the experts, but grandparents get a pass. We are in an excellent position to provide to our grandkids what we couldn’t offer to our kids.

Babies can be difficult at times and wear out the patience of the most laid-back parent. Although Luca was fussy and whiny while teething, I remained unflappable. I called upon those primordial skills most parents possess — yet, I probably didn’t fully utilize them until now.

I was a parent first — I get it!  I don’t believe there is a parent alive who hasn’t felt the strain of a crying baby, the Terrible 2’s, the quarrelsome 3’s, or an uncooperative 5-year old.

I’ll leave it here. I don’t want to frighten you with the terrible teens.

Perhaps I missed a lot when I was a young mom, but now Luca is the lucky beneficiary of my expanded patience. I will travel the distance (yes, 13 hours) to bond with him.

Luca and I will build a treasury of memories: I visualize us walking on the beach, making sand castles, collecting shells and sea glass. We will hike through pristine forests, visit art museums see Broadway shows, Yankee games.

I yearn to watch Luca discover the wonder of the world though his young eyes; while my older eyes discover the world anew.

I believe that when a grandchild is born, a grandparent is reborn.

Folks, to summarize my unscientific findings:

Being a mom is priceless; being Glamma is limitless.

Celia Iannelli is a news columnist who lives in Suffolk County and writes from her sometimes off-kilter perspective. She’s a people person who finds humor in everyday, mundane situations — yet knows about the heartbreaking curve balls that life can hurl. You can email her at ceilmars@optonline.net.