A few years ago, my mom gave Mallory the book "The Twelve Bugs of Christmas." It's a very cute book, but takes a long time to read if you do it right; if, for example, on the sixth day you read:

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Six tinsel bugs a tangling
Five glowing bugs
Four cuckoo bugs
Three snowflake bugs
Two sneaky bugs
And a fruitcake bug in a pear tree.

However, I am lazy, so I always cheat when I read the book to my kids:

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Six tinsel bugs a tangling!

and then on to the seventh day.

Last night, Phoebe brought the book to me. "Grandmom read this book to me when she was here," she said. I started to read it in my usual lazy way. But when I got to the third day, and was about to turn the page, Phoebe put her hand on mine and said, "Mommy! You're not done! You have to read the whole thing!"

My mom had read it the right way, apparently, and Phoebe remembered. It struck me that that's what grandmothers are for; they put an extra-special touch on everything they do.

I was very worried, when Mallory was born, how she was going to form a relationship with my parents, who live so far away. I'm not proud of this, but there even times, in the first months of her life, when I even resented my in-laws for being so close, for being able to see Mallory any time they wanted to, when all she had of my parents was phone calls and photographs. (I got over that, by the way; I think it had a lot to do with being postpartum!)

But then something remarkable happened. We went to visit my parents, when Mallory was a few months old, and Mallory let my parents hold her without crying once. We went back when she was about a year old, and she cried whenever my mom left the room. The next year, when my mom came to visit us, Mallory immediately latched right on to her, asked her to read her stories and play with her Sesame Street house. And so on through the years; Mallory has never been shy around my mom, has always accepted her without hesitation and is always excited about her visits. Phoebe was a bit tougher; she wouldn't even speak to my parents for a year or two. But with this last visit, every bit of her shyness evaporated, and within an hour of my mom's arrival, Phoebe was asking her to play Barbies. (Both girls are a little bit shy still with my dad, but Mallory still asks, occasionally, if Granddad really likes to eat wormcake, which is something he teased her about when she was maybe two years old, and Phoebe always includes a Granddad and a Grandmom in the story she makes up with her "guys.")

I still wish we lived closer; I'll always wish that. I wish that my girls could see my parents (and my sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews, etc) any time they wanted, that my family was more a part of their daily life. But I am comforted by the knowledge that Mallory and Phoebe have developed a close bond with my parents in spite of the distance -- and that it's not just because of the photos and the phone calls and the not-frequent-enough visits, either. It's because they know that my parents love them; and that's more than enough.


aimee said...

That was a touching post. I wish you lived closer too.

Anonymous said...

I wish we were closer too, but we will just have to make the best of our infreguent times together.