Being away from your kids is never easy, especially when it is for a prolonged period of time. Just think of the military mothers and fathers who have to leave their families behind for months or, in some cases, years.
For the past four months, and counting, my husband has been thousands of miles away. The separation, though difficult, is a necessary step towards providing a better future for our children. This is the only reason that he hasn’t packed his bags and hopped on the next flight home.
He misses his family immensely and we miss him.
I recall a story that my parents told me about when I was a baby. My mother became pregnant with me while she was on a scholarship in California. I was born during the last year of her course and, naturally, she did not want to leave me. After a lot of coaxing by my father, he encouraged her to finish what she had started and she left.
My mother’s biggest fear about leaving me, especially at such a young age, was that I would forget her. And honestly, this was my husband’s fear as well with our youngest son in particular.
It is no secret that babies do work with an out of sight out of mind type of memory, so being forgotten after being absent for a considerable period of time is a valid fear.
It may not be said, but it takes a lot of work, primarily by the parent who remains with the children, to ensure that the other parent is not forgotten and remains an integral part of the family’s dynamic.
Although, modern technology does make this a lot easier than, say, when I was a baby, it still requires a certain level of commitment to have the missing parent’s image and persona consistently present in your children’s lives.
At our home, every day consists of video chats, phone calls, WhatsApp messages or voice notes, looking at old pictures, talking about what we miss about daddy and what we would be doing if daddy were here right now. In everything that we do, regardless of how minor it may be, we include daddy in some way, shape or form.
Doing this not only helps our sons cope with daddy not being physically present and allows them to continue to associate him with being a major part of our lives, but also allows my husband to share in every moment of their development.
The child you leave at 12 months old will be a completely different individual six months, ten months, a year down the line. In that time frame, your significant other would have missed months of new words, new abilities, new likes and dislikes and several inches of growth.
For a child, not having one parent around every day can be a miserable experience. As a parent, not being able to see your children as they grow up and experience life without you is a difficult reality to face. But, if this is the reality in your family, as it currently is in mine, putting in the effort and devoting the extra time to preserving the memory and presence of the missing parent, will make the transition smoother for your kids and yourselves.