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Vicki's Story

My children have three Grandmas’.  All of them love the children and all of them have the children’s best interests at heart.  Unfortunately, due to distance, health and circumstances their two biological grandmas’ are unable to participate in our lives regularly in a practical sense.

As a single parent, with three vibrant, lively children to care for I have found my job to be challenging, isolating at times and absolutely overwhelming at others.  Depression and anxiety have been an issue for me.  This is where my friend Tanya (the children’s third and non-biological grandma) has been a blessing.

Tanya and I met through the Home-Start program around 5 years ago.  At the time my twins were not yet one and my daughter was four.  They are now 5½ and 9 years old.  We were well matched from the start, having similar interests and values in common and this provided a solid foundation for what is now a firm friendship and a vital support to myself and the children.

The benefit of having Tanya involved in our lives is immeasurable.  There have many times when I have felt in desperate need of a friendly face, a kind word, a supportive gesture and in the absence of family support, I have known I can count on Tanya to respond.

Sometimes all that I need is a phone call to talk it through, sometimes I need practical help with running our home or for the children to be engaged in and activity, so I know their needs are met while I take a breath!!  Always, for me just knowing I can call on Tanya is reassuring and that helps me to be calmer, more confident person and therefore a better mum to my children.

Tanya brings a wealth of patience, sensitivity, wisdom and life experience with her.  She knows when to offer advice and when to give quiet support so I can process something in my own time.  She is always respectful of my parenting choices while opening information about everything from early literacy to health, behaviour guidance (for the children and myself!) recipes + meal ideas and contacts for financial planning and emotional well-being.  With a strong foundation of mutual respect, I feel unconditional support.

The children always look forward to seeing Tanya, whether they are going on outings to the park, playgroups and other appropriate activities or simply spending time at home reading, cooking, doing craft, or playing.  If my responsibilities prevent me from taking them to a party or scheduled activity (swimming, dancing and last year preschool) or if they just need to get out they suggest I call Tanya (if I haven’t already!).  The bond they have developed is beautiful, consistent and ongoing.

Tanya will often organise activities that all three children can participate in, but is also very aware of their individual interests and development and plans separate activities where appropriate.  She responds to them where they are, with encouragement and gentle guidance.

The children’s love of books is constantly reinforced when Tanya reads to them, as she has done since they were tiny.  It seems natural that she will participate in the grandparent reading program at school this year, something I know the children will look forward to enormously.

I am also supported and encouraged by Tanya in my own creative and educational endeavours.  She reminds me to believe in myself, develop my skills and seek experiences which lead me to greater confidence and happiness, which benefits my whole family.

Tanya is my back-up, my support person, my very special friend.  In many ways, too many to write about now, Trish has filled a seemingly gaping hole in our lives – that of a willing, available, protective, caring and supportive Grandparent.  She brings light to our lives and eases the load on me which has helped us all in a huge way.

I feel extremely fortunate and forever grateful that I found out about the Home-Start program and subsequently met Tanya.  Any program that links families like ours with “Grandparents” like Tanya is in my experience and opinion a priceless gift and should be supported and encouraged without hesitation.

Tanya has been there for me through thick and thin.  In my heart and in a very practical way she has been a pillar of strength.  She has shared the good and the bad, the funny times and the “I’m not coping” times.  Having the opportunity to share that with her has and continues to be invaluable to me, as I’m certain it has and will be to many families without support.