The times they are a changin', and at 50-something -- with my kids spread all over the planet -- this mama has to do what this mama has to do to be part of their lives. So, when my girl announced I'd be a grandmother this summer, my head immediately began spinning all the challenges of sharing this special time with her, when she lives in Israel, and I live on the west coast of the U.S. Not easy! But I don't walk away from a challenge -- especially one that means this much.
Luckily, technology has evolved enormously since I was young, and sending letters to my mother. My girl and I can email whenever we want. We instant message; we text; we enjoy long-distance phone calls that are no longer "long distance," and we can Skype! I find myself sounding increasingly like my grandmother, in my utter amazement of new'ish things available to us. It still seems like magic that I can Google virtually any question or topic, and have the answer, plus several thousand other options, instantly! It is beyond magic that I can hit a link and see my girl's face, and spend real time with her on Skype.
When I realized that I wouldn't get to have a baby shower for my daughter, it didn't go down well. It's bad enough that I have to rely on texts, chats, iMessage, Skype, just to watch her round belly grow, and listen to her as she experiences this huge time in her life, but to not get to shower her with all the love and excitement that I'm feeling about this baby, was too much to bear. There would be no shower where my girl is, and this grandma-to-be was determined to change that. And so I planned a 21st century solution: a Surprise Skype Baby Shower!
I told my girl that a mystery friend would be in town on June 28th, and wanted to Skype with her from our home. I made her promise she would be available, but refused to tell her any more. Then I sent out invitations that included her baby registry, and let everyone know that we would be having a real shower: complete with decorations, food, presents, and the mama to be ... via my computer screen. Friends and family rallied around the idea and we managed to keep it a total surprise. I had my niece help me with decorating and making food. Having her here was extra special, and let me enjoy planning this with another girl I love. Then, we waited and planned.
The day of the shower we made sure that all of the food was food that our girl could eat: gluten free. We had baby shower balloons, and decorations in gender-neutral colors, as they don't know the sex of the baby and want to raise their child as gender neutral as possible. There were beautiful flowers, and mimosas to toast her with. We gathered at 10 a.m. our time, 8 p.m. her time, and I let the ladies all know how we would pull off the surprise. And then I dialed my daughter, on Skype. The room stayed silent as I carried the laptop into the living room, and as I turned the screen around ... we all yelled "SURPRISE!"
I didn't plan well enough to have someone get a photo of her utterly shocked face, as she realized that the room was full of people she loves: friends and family alike. As she lay snuggled up in her pajamas, 7,000 miles away, her face lit up, as I passed the screen around and it began to register what was happening. What a joyful moment!
We spent 2.5 hours with my daughter, at her virtual baby shower. Each person had the screen when they opened their gift for her, and told my girl what they got for her child and why. Each person got a special moment face to face with her. Each of us shared a piece of advice or some words of love. We ate our food, while she lay with a big bowl of ice cream and we laughed; we cried; we read poems and cards to her; we toasted her, and we all celebrated together the joy of her impending motherhood.
My baby girl -- my first -- is living far from home, far from so many people who love her, as she prepares to welcome her first baby. So many of those people couldn't be at this shower, but their love was with us in notes, emails, packages mailed to our home, and a room full of people who wanted to celebrate with her. We let my girl know that no matter how far she goes in the world, no matter how great the distance, our love and joy for her will reach her. We showered her with love ... and she felt it.
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