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I Have Nana Envy

By Sally Collings - 1st September 2011

I have a bad case of Nana envy this week. It’s all my friends’ fault.

Friend number one – let’s call her Snow White – is heading off for a week’s skiing in Falls Creek. She tells me that they have friends living down that way, who will pick them up from the airport. I’m wondering what sort of people mover these friends have, to be able to accommodate two adults, three children and a week’s worth of luggage. "Oh no," says Snow White. : "Our kids aren’t coming – their nana is going to look after them for the week."

Friend number two – let’s call her Paintbrush Pam – is renovating. Doesn’t sound too enviable so far, I know. But the family is moving out for a month. To Pam’s parents-in-law’s house, staying in the self-contained two-bedroom granny flat.

Friend number three – Wife of Dickens – has just had a husband-free month while her partner holed up in his study to finish writing his next book. Her mum came to stay and mind the kids. Dickens and his wife made the most of it and had a child-free weekend in the city at the end of the month.

Now, I can see that there may be a down side to any of these scenarios. Mother-in-law staying in the house might re-arrange the contents of every cupboard. The granny flat might feature an aroma of stale cat. Having mum in the spare room might impede the natural flow of family life (aka tantrums and bribery).

Even so, I’ve got nana envy something bad. My parents both passed away soon after my first child was born. My husband’s family lives 1700 km away. So we have never had parents on tap for babysitting, emergency accommodation or grandparent day at school.

Friend number four – sorry, I’ve run out of pseudonyms now – doesn’t have in-laws or parents of her own close to hand: they live on another continent. But she does have a teenage helper who picks up her three children from school most afternoons. "Oh, it’s easy for her. She has a nanny," drawls a mutual acquaintance. Apparently that is a perfectly acceptable thing to say. "Oh, it’s easy for her. She has a mother," doesn’t quite seem to have the same currency.

Never take a nana – or a pop, for that matter – for granted. They are precious commodities. The rest of us are getting by the best we can.

Tell me, do you have a fantastic nana (or pop) who helps you out? Maybe you’ve got someone else who plays that role for your family? I’d love to hear your stories.

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