Having recently (within the last year or so) become a long distance parent, I’ve done some considerable reading on how best to maintain a relationship with my daughter and cope with the multitude of emotions involved. Of all of the advice I’ve read, perhaps the most important thing is to have a strong support system and someone you can talk to. I’m extremely fortunate to have just that and an amazing partner in my girlfriend. I wrote the below to her, but wanted to share:
My Dearest :
As I type this, I’m sitting at about 30,000 feet or so, on my fourth flight of the day since the alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 3:40 a.m. I was fortunate enough to catch an earlier flight, so I’ll be home about 4 hours sooner than originally anticipated. I miss you and I’m anxious to see you after a long weary day of travel.
As you know, I had to take Allie home today, and while the 4,000-or-so frequent flier miles in a 16 hr span are nice, they sure take their toll. I’m tired and emotionally drained right now. Flights 3 and 4 have been lonely, without the excitement of travelling with my little sidekick, but they give me plenty of time to think. (Aren’t we always pining for some down time? nothing like a solid day of air travel to make me careful what we wish for!)
Baby, I can’t begin to tell you how special the last two weeks of my life have been. It is appropriate that Allie’s last full day with us was our first Thanksgiving all together. I don’t think a man can be more thankful than I am for the time I’ve had in the last 14 days with the two most important girls in my life. Spending time, just the 3 of us, has been fun, memorable and all I could ever ask for. Whether it’s doing puzzles, shopping, or just watching Nickelodeon, it always felt so comfortable and perfect, even if it was such a departure from the normal routine when it’s just you and me.
I know we are all still adjusting to what it means to be a long-distance family. And I smile thinking about how far we’ve come and how much Allie looks up to you and emulates you. I couldn’t be happier to have such an amazing woman as a strong influence in her life; someone who sets a great example, treats her with respect and makes her feel comfortable. We’re both so lucky to have you in our lives. You’d think that after two solid weeks away from her mother, Allie would be pining to get back home to her “usual” life, with her friends and family. She told me several times during our journey today that she wasn’t ready to go home yet and wanted to spend more time with us in her “California home”.
You, more than anyone, know what I go through emotionally when I have to take her back. You’re always there to give me a big hug, reassure me that we’ll see her again soon and that she still thinks of me and misses me during the time we don’t have her (even if she doesn’t want to talk on the phone). You help me through the tough times and provide me with much needed perspective and guidance.
As amazing as the last couple of weeks have been, I’m also anxious to get back to just the two of us, in our little world that we’ve worked so hard to build for ourselves. I LOVE my life with you and where it is all going and I love that we share every part of ourselves with one another. I truly feel like I’ve found my soul mate in this crazy and sometimes difficult life and I can’t thank you enough just for being the woman that you are, so effortlessly, in every aspect of my life. You’re the quintessential partner and more than I ever imagined I deserved. So, in this time of giving thanks, I want you to know that I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful for the life we’ve created together, whether we’re being silly with a 4-year-old, or spending time just the two of us. Thanks for always being there and for being my partner and my soul mate.
I love you,
One of the things that you can’t truly understand unless you’ve actually experienced long distance parenthood, is that you CAN love and appreciate life while away from your child(ren). I know that it’s difficult for others to get past the whole concept of not tucking their kids in every night, but among the greatest gifts you can give to your children is to teach them how to love and appreciate this life by setting a good example, surrounding yourself with people who love you and enriching your life by showing them how to love and respect others. I’ve found these things that make me a better all-around man and someone that my daughter can be proud of.
Our time together is spent laughing, playing and enjoying this wonderful life that I’ve been able to create in the face of our distance and I don’t take a second of our time together for granted.
As her father, it is my job to show her, by example, how to navigate this crazy world. I want her to know that she can find happiness, exalt in the love of others, and appreciate life even though it’s not always easy.