It’s very rare (and very hard) for me to keep secrets from my husband. When a secret is tied into a surprise, it’s even tougher!
Littles’ Mom and I are the calendar planning schedule makers. We work out all the details on her visits sometimes half a year in advance, since we both pretty much live with a calendar attached at our hips. This is great, because we are always on-top of things, and can rely on each other whenever something comes up. When Littles started kindergarten, our visitation times changed dramatically, from every month to whenever she had holiday breaks, or a long weekend. Substituting our time together with video chats are great, but it’s usually hard on her Dad to not have her in his arms. It took some getting used to at first, but we make it fun.
One weekend in April ’12, her mom sent me a message early in the week with an idea. She was longing to see a show in Austin, and would rather send her up here with us than to have Littles stay with someone there. She figured she and I could meet that Friday, since Littles’ Dad would be working both nights. It had been a month since spring break, and her Dad was really missing her. It couldn’t have come at a more PERFECT time, so we worked out our plan.
We met at our halfway point between Houston and Dallas, and from the moment we made the trek home, we were so excited! Her Dad wouldn’t get home until about 3am, so the first thing he would see when he walked in, was her asleep in his bed. Littles had to do very minimal arm twisting to convince me to let her sleep in our room versus hers. Since his arrival time would be way past her bedtime, she even helped me set up a “super secret hidden video camera” so that we could record his reaction. She had me request he wake her up when he got home, but that kid sleeps like a rock.
As 3:30am rolled around, I shook with excitement when I heard his car coming up the driveway, and I rushed to hit the record button. What happened next was one of the sweetest moments I ever remember and gratefully be able to relive.
Working together with family members is not only is a great way to keep things fun for the kids and make them feel as special as they are, but also helps to strengthen the bond between separated parents and extended family. While every family is different and may not have as close a relationship as would be desired, it’s important to TRY and work together to make your families be there for each other.
Doing spontaneous things to show that you’re not just sticking to a schedule can make the biggest different. In this case, her Dad let me know how appreciative he was that I had been listening to how much he wanted to be with his daughter. It made him feel understood. He was also so happy to know that her Mom reached out to us even though we were hundreds of miles away, and the fact that we planned this trip with out his knowledge was the perfect surprise on a short weekend.