The other day I got a very short email, simply:
Any ideas for you and Allie for Christmas? What’s she into? Love, Mom
I closed out of the innocuous and harmless request for ideas and started to feel a little choked up and sad. Truth be told, I guess I kind of know what Allie is into. I mean, Barbies and princesses and all of the other stuff that 4 year old girls play with, right? I guess I had a moment (okay, maybe more than just a moment) of feeling like a pretty lousy dad. When it comes down to it, I guess I don’t really know what it is that my daughter is really into right now. Humbly, I fired off a text message to her mother to ask for a few ideas. Needless to say, I was pretty in the dark about some of the stuff that came back (really, a drum set??).
In the few conversations that I get with my daughter we talk about school, about playing with her friends, what she’s up to at that given moment, and about how much we love and miss each other. I guess it never really dawned on me to ask her what she’s playing with, what she watches on TV or what books she reads. I know that the last time I saw her, over the summer on our vacation, she just wanted to swim and read books. But she’s growing so fast, it’s tough to keep up. It’s so hard to know everything about her development and growth from 1,500 miles away.
I also struggle with trying to figure out how to best facilitate my daughter’s relationship with my Mom, her grandmother. I know that my Mom misses her so much, just like I do. She lives on the complete opposite side of the country, with my daughter probably about smack dab in between us, geographically. It gets difficult just to coordinate frequent visits with just my daughter, but to incorporate my Mom as well is extremely tough. However, I am very anxiously awaiting my daughter’s next trip (her 2nd) to come visit me out West in November, when my Mom has graciously scheduled a trip of her own to help watch Allie on the days that I have to work. I’m very thankful for the help, but more than anything, I’m just excited that my Mom can get that critical 1-on-1 time with her only granddaughter. It should be fun.
I’d be curious if anyone has any ideas on how to best cultivate that grandmother/granddaughter relationship? My Mom doesn’t have the greatest relationship with my ex, which makes it tough for her to directly manage contact with Allie. Aside from the occasionally encouragement to Allie that she should call her grandmother, I don’t know what else I can do. I don’t want either of them to feel like a stranger to one another.
At any rate, I’m planning on taking my daughter shopping for Christmas ideas when she comes to visit next month. We’ll bring along her grandmother, and I’m sure we will come away with more than enough ideas. It’s those simple moments that I cherish. I’m sure I’ll have more than my fair share of “lousy dad” moments after I have to take her back home and feel so disconnected again, but for the 2 short weeks she’s out here, I’ll be on top of the world, sharing the best parts of all of my life with the most important people in it. And that’s better than any Christmas idea I could give my Mom for me.