I guess nobody understands the struggles of a long-distance mom unless you are one.
It is a daily battle of loneliness. The act of putting on a brave-happy-face at work is easy enough. But the occasional lunch-break-crying-binge is another thing.
Long distance parenting can be tough, yet as hard as it is, we move along our daily battles in silence.
To some parents who live with their children, I hope you’ll forgive us, when we seem uninterested to listen to stories about your children. We are not being rude, we just don’t want to be reminded of something we physically don’t have…the presence of our children.
Like other parents our desire is to be with our children every step of the way. School events, birthdays and other milestones. We wanted to be there. Sometimes it’s possible, and sometimes it’s impossible.
From experience, parenting long distance is never easy. But for as long as I keep in mind that I brought my girls into the world to become their own persons, independent, happy and responsible human-beings, it re-aligns my perspectives of what a parent should be.
Here are some things I have learned how to make long-distance parenting manageable.
1. Maximize the Use of Technology. We are lucky, that we live in a day and age where technology makes communication easy and readily available. My girls and I are in touch on a daily basis. We maintain a chat group where the 3 of us, can chat about their day, exchange jokes and even local gossip from my hometown. My girls are pre-teens and having established the openness in our communication in this early stage of their adulthood, gives me the advantage to encouraged them that they can talk to mommy, anytime, anywhere and basically about anything. There are numerous Apps that you can choose from, explore and find one (or two) that works for you and your children. For us, we use either LINE or Facebook Messenger, basically because of the stickers & GIF images which my girls love. So, find one that you feel is age appropriate and just make sure to keep an eye on your children’s accounts, especially to those of you with children below 18.
2. Encourage them to Talk/Share. Always maintain a welcoming communication environment, where you tend to listen more than you talk. Sometimes, it’s tempting to share your news to them, but remember your children may have news or updates to impress or please you as well. Learn to take your time and listen more, and allow them to share. I promise you, it is pretty amazing to be able to “look” into your children’s thoughts as they express themselves to you.
3. Always maintain a happy front. I do get it, that you miss them a lot. But it will not help any of you to make them feel bad of being far from each other. It’s perfectly fine to say “I miss you” or “I’m thinking of you” but then make sure to end that with a promise of a visit or seeing them in the future. That way, everyone has something to look forward to and be excited about.
4. Stay connected. By letting them feel you’re thinking of them, that they’re actually not far from your mind, despite the distance. I would sometimes, forward some old pictures of us or some articles that I know my girls would find interesting. My eldest daughter loves to read, so I would send her some links where she can access free e-books. While my youngest is more active, I would send her photos of her favorite cyclists or anything that is in her current fave of the month list. Being in the loop of their interests deepens our bond.
5. End every communication with an “I love you”. Well, this doesn’t need further elaboration, you know why.
I know, being a long-distance parent is not an ideal place to be in life, but it doesn’t mean we have no influence in the lives of our children. It takes deliberate effort, and planning. So, if you are a long-distance parent like me, just stay stong and believe in yourself that you still have the ability to influence and have a meaningful impact in your children’s lives.
You’re awesome, and don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.