One of ongoing tragedies of the separated family is there are periods of separation between one holiday period and the next. Depending on the arrangement, time and distance can play havoc with the relationships that most normal families (perhaps) take for granted.
The father (or mother) working fly-in/fly-out knows all about this. Concentrated times together interspersed with extended time apart. It’s not perfect, though what arrangement is?
During a recent time together, a period of nine days, we had a wonderful time, my girls and us. We didn’t go away; we just hung out together and did stuff that normal families do; the shopping, walks, visits to relatives, play some sport etc.
I’ve found a certain phenomenon occurs within my heart a day before the final day. I begin to miss the girls even though they’re still with us. It’s like I’m anticipating missing them.
Then when I’ve finally dropped them back at their mother’s house it sinks in suddenly as I drive off. They’re no longer here. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pine for them; that would be unhealthy for both them and me as they’d be worried for me. There was a period, during the raw grief of initial separation, where I was a burden to the children. Thankfully that period didn’t last long.
Nowadays I’m just caused to reflect, and even though there’s invariably a tear or two, it’s sacrificed to God in thanks for the time we’ve had together. Mostly I’m thankful for being a decent father; for having spent our time lovingly having a good hand in their development during the time together.
One thing I was pressed to write about, however, is fathers (and mothers) in my situation i.e. separated from their children the majority of the time, ought to miss their children appropriately--not too much or not enough--but visibly miss them by calling often and maximising time and opportunities with them.
Not missing them too much means we should not be too upset if circumstances beyond our control mean we can’t see them. We have to be the mature ones who’re upbeat about the unfortunate event. We hence model for them how to accept bad news with grace. It’s the adult response.
Not missing them enough would be a travesty as every child deserves the love of a parent. Intentionally missing access visits or arriving late without letting the other party know sends the wrong message to our kids--they need to know we’re missing them enough that we want to be with them when we can.
At the end of the day it’s our kids who know we’re either there for them or not; they’re the ultimate judge.
Like any parent, I love my kids like nothing else. And that’s certainly enough motivation to miss them right.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.