When a son becomes a father, during a pandemic

Because of the coronavirus, we couldn’t travel to support our son and his wife with the mundane but helpful tasks grandparents happily take on when a baby is born.

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Fewer distractions are more welcome these days than a text message that reads, “You guys home?”

The messages come every few days from our son, who lives in California. We know what they mean: “How about a visit with your granddaughter?”

Whatever else is happening, I always reply “yes!” — usually with several exclamation points. Then I race down the hall, phone in hand, to find my husband before the FaceTime image leaps onto my screen.

For the next few minutes (the baby, of course, determines the length of our “play dates”), Dan and I grin like a couple of fools as we singsong our greetings to this precious little girl who was born during a pandemic and remains frustratingly out of reach.

She is healthy, safe and thriving; that is all that matters. And her sleep-deprived parents are coping beautifully, despite the fact that they have been truly on their own since she was born in mid-March.

Because of the coronavirus, we couldn’t travel to support them with the mundane but helpful tasks grandparents happily take on when a baby is born — laundry, cooking, shopping, or simply providing an extra set of arms so weary parents can nap.

We are missing a lot — but not everything.

Thanks to thoughtful, frequent communications from our son and his wife, we’ve enjoyed pictures, videos and especially these live “chats” with their little girl, whose every sound or movement fills our hearts with love and joy.

Along the way, we’ve borne witness to another transformation. Our strong, athletic son — who played football throughout high school and college, who launched a successful business in a highly competitive field, who courageously pulls no punches when tough decisions must be made — has become a tender, devoted, and highly engaged father.

He read the pregnancy and birth books when his wife was pregnant, and he hasn’t stopped reading. He can tell you exactly which developmental stages his daughter has passed, and which are on the horizon. (A big one is coming up — at 12 pounds, it is hoped, she may sleep through the night!)

As I was writing, I got a new message. This time, Daddy and Baby were home on their own while Mom was out running some errands. For a full 20 minutes, my son patiently sat as I told his daughter how much fun we will have some day reading books together, blowing bubbles, making art projects. Despite his packed schedule as an entrepreneur and manager, my son knew that this particularly quiet moment in his daughter’s life would be one I would cherish.

He was right. And I haven’t stopped smiling.

Our son’s first Father’s Day will truly be one to celebrate and remember. It will be almost as precious to me as the day he was born.