"I would love to get Mae a bike for her birthday. Is that her dream? Love, Dad"
This is what my Dad emailed to me just before my daughter's recent 8th birthday.
Mae had outgrown her tiny bike, which she'd had since kindergarten. I'd been on a hunt for a used kid's bike, but her birthday was getting closer. I hadn't directly asked my dad to help me out, but he must have sensed my pinch.
I'm so fortunate to have such a generous father, in every way. In 1999, when I called my dad to tell him that I was having a baby, he was clearly worried. I was 27 years old. I was not married. But he flew to New York City and welcomed baby Mae into the world with love. It took a lot of encouragement to get him to finally hold her -- "I'm afraid I might drop her!"
In New York, I was a researcher at Time Inc.'s high-rise in midtown Manhattan. Just before my 30th birthday, I decided to move back home, back under my father's roof, in his highrise. With my adorable toddler.
That's when Mae began to call him "Pa." For the past six years, Grandpa has picked Mae up every Monday from school. He helps her with math homework and lets her watch too much TV. He treats her to ice cream sundaes -- and he took her to the bike store for her new set of wheels.
Having my father so involved hasn't always been easy. He can be dramatic and impatient. He worries obsessively. Yet he has softened greatly in the past few years. He has become a better listener. For the first time in our adult lives, we talk like friends.
I'm so grateful to have my dad. He's the one who gives my daughter what her biological father has never been able to.
What she says about asking for -- and getting --- support really resonates for me:
"Motherhood is tougher than I think most people admit. It often requires that you depend on others for financial stability because motherhood, perhaps the most important job in our society, does not pay a wage."
For many of us, it's not easy to accept help -- or even ask for it.