To Nanny and Grandpa's house we go

Filed under: Relatives, Activities: Babies

My Kid Has Four Parents

I stood in the delivery room, my brand-new daughter grasping my finger for the very first time, my shaky hands trying to call my father, my voice barely audible as I mumbled that I had a child. It's hard to say what he was feeling -- I'd woken him up during a business trip in China, and I was practically delusional the room was spinning so fast. He asked if I was OK, and I probably told him I was, but all I remember thinking was that -- even though he'd been the voice of reason throughout the incredibly frightening 9 months leading up to that moment -- I could hear the crack in his voice. She was finally real, and he wasn't there to see it.

And since then, that's been more or less the story. I made the thousand-mile move down to Texas hoping that physical proximity would improve my chances of knowing my daughter -- but obviously my family couldn't come with me. So here we are, with me perennially overwhelmed at the little person Edan's becoming, posting lots of photos, and telling lots of stories -- trying to make up for the months that pass between visits.

Sometimes, however, we're able make the trip to see Nanny, Grandpa, Aunt Kristin and Uncle Nick -- and when we do, it's a big deal.

Like with anytime I really want Edan to like something, they key for getting Edan pumped about this trip was planning ahead. I planted the seed early -- but often -- hinting that, in the distant future, we'd be taking a trip more awesome than she could possibly imagine. Then I got to work on a steady regime of reminders, tirelessly building that anticipation, so that by now Edan is so overwhelmed with excitement that you'd think we were taking a trip to the year 2042 in Dr. Emmit Brown's time-traveling Delorean.

We've had the following conversation about eight million times:

"Do you know where we're going pretty soon?"
"Do you know how we'll get there?"
"Do you know what they have at their new house?"
"No, what?"

And so on. The best part is, that by this point, Edan knows exactly where we're going, she knows we're taking an airplane, and she's pretty damn certain she'll be swimming in Nanny and Grandpa's pool -- yet the conversation goes just like that, every time, as if being surprised with such wonderful news is merely part of the fun.

I'm glad she's so pumped. It's important for Edan to see her family.

And also, it's important for me.

For the first year or so of Edan's life, her mother and I weren't getting along. The law isn't very understanding about never-been-married, non-custodial fathers of babies that young, so Edan and I couldn't go anywhere, or do much of anything. She was introduced to my parents in her mother's house, while her warring mom and dad did all they could to tolerate the sight of one another until the awkward meeting was over. Like most sons, I imagine, I wanted my parents to think I was a good dad, and it tore me apart that I wasn't able to show them.

So these little trips mean a lot.

This upcoming weekend, in particular, will be the first that we've all spent together since I started seeing Edan every afternoon -- now that I feel like I know her. Sure, I've always known my child to a certain extent, but when I was only seeing her on weekends, there was this feeling that I was always just staying on top of it from moment to moment -- that anyone who spent a few days with her would probably know my daughter about as well as I did. Now, while I still feel like I have no idea what's going on half the time, I'm slightly more confident that I am a good father -- and, weird and selfish as it sounds, it makes me happy that my family can, after three years, finally see that.

I guess, truth be told, our little conversations about pools, airplanes, and trips to Nanny and Grandpa's house aren't entirely for Edan's benefit.

I'm pretty excited too.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.