Grandparent Love

Parenting is a challenge no matter where you live. It doesn’t seem like there’s a way to truly prepare yourself for how different your life is going to be. However, from the very beginning, I knew that having my children in Mexico, far from my home country of Canada, was going to bring its own set of unique challenges.

My realization came pretty early on when I tried to get my husband to sign us up for prenatal classes after becoming pregnant with my first child. I naively assumed that formal prenatal preparation was a global sort of thing.

Unfortunately, my husband had no idea what I was talking about. The hospital where I was planning to give birth had no idea what I was talking about. At the end of the day, I had no idea what I was talking about. I just knew that I was going to have a baby, and I didn’t know how to do that.

My smiling, fatherly obstetrician comforted me by telling me that both my baby and my body would know exactly what to do when the time came and, if they somehow didn’t, he knew a thing or two about birthing a baby. Spoiler alert: this was all true.

Somehow, we persevered, despite the fact that all Mexican grandmothers were appalled at my baby’s state of undress when we went out for walks. A four-month-old baby going sock-free in the tropics seemed like a no-brainer to me, but I did start to notice that socks AND shoes on infants were more the norm around here.

I got used to most things, but one thing that I never got used to was the distance between our little family and my larger one up north. I had made some friends here in Vallarta, but there’s nothing like having your mom around to help you choose your nursing bras (this is not something husbands are very helpful with, but bless Gil, he did his best).

And that’s where I have a lot of gratitude looking back on my life. People sometimes ask me if I feel badly about raising my children so far from their grandparents, but the truth of the matter is, they didn’t. My parents, who had been retired for a few years, began coming down every winter and dedicating all the winter months to our family in Mexico.

During my maternity leave, my dad would pack up my son in the snugli, and he, my mom, and I would walk all around our El Centro neighborhood every morning at sunrise. When my daughter was born in the middle of the hottest June ever (at least it feels like it when you’re nine months pregnant), my mom flew down to help me deal with a toddler, a newborn, and a raging case of the baby blues.

When our babies turned toddlers, and Gil and I were working long hours, my dad would take them on the bus and walk them, hand-in-hand, to their little preschool. He’d wait hours for them until they got out, and then they’d come back home, having the best adventures together every day. My mom would do laundry, prepare meals, wipe tears, and generally be a constant support to the entire family.

My parents still come to Vallarta in winter. They don’t have much child care to do now that I have an adult son living in Canada and a nearly adult daughter in high school. They still help me prepare meals and keep the house clean, which is about as indispensable as you can imagine.

We also reminisce about those busy, chaotic, beautiful days when it took four grown adults to raise two little children. We feel pretty proud about the job we did. And I feel so grateful that my children had the gift of loving grandparents in their daily lives.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.


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