Being a long distance parent never gets any easier. You live with the constant feeling that something is missing. There is a dull ache you carry, moments when you forget that you won’t see your child today, times when the background on your laptop computer shows an adorable picture of her smiling face and you wish you could give her a hug.
I imagine long distance parenting is difficult at any age. You feel like you are “supposed” to be together more when they’re younger, but I wonder if it really gets any easier when they grow up, when they’re out with friends as teenagers, when they move into college, when they get married and start a family of their own.
The truth is that all parents experience the ache of long-distance parenting all of the time, perhaps in smaller ways. The dance of the parent-child relationship is moving away and returning back. An infant learning to crawl sees how far they can go, looking back over the shoulder to make sure their parent is still present, and then rushes back to “touch base.” Elementary school aged children experiment with who they are, start to become independent, even defiant, but then before bedtime they’re melting in your arms like a toddler again. Even as an adult son, there are plenty of times I want my Mom and Dad for comfort, love, and support.
I like to think of the journey of life as being a journey from Mother to Divine Mother. Newborns upon birth do not even recognize Mother as Other. The Mother is the same as the self, united in love, comfort, and sustenance. If life takes us on any kind of journey, it is to lead us to unity with our Divine Mother, the Creator God of us all, to a place where we no longer experience division between ourselves and God, when God is so close God stops being Other. The spiritual journey leads to unity in love, comfort, and sustenance with the Source of All Being.
And so I find comfort in imagining that God relates to my long-distance parenting. God longs, yearns to be united with all of us and for us to be united in love with each other. But God looks down on a world so full of division, pain, separation, loss, hate, violence, and death. We have been given the icon of God’s suffering with us, the tangible moment in time when that eternal love and longing for us could be seen, in the cross. In the cross we can look and see not just the love and faithfulness of Jesus, God’s Son, but the ineffable love of a Father for His children.
Christian long-distance parenting is cruciform, just as all parenting is cruciform – not merely in the sense that this is our cross to bear, a difficulty in life to overcome, or a way to feel sorry for oneself. Parenting is cruciform in the sense that every parent must be willing to be broken open, to give all in love for their children, to sacrifice, to be humble, and to serve. And yes, parents are forced to come to grips with being separated from their children, and experience the pain of that separation, all for the well-being of the children they love.
Being a long-distance parent never gets any easier, but I am comforted in knowing that God is with me in both the good and bad moments, the beauty and the tears. And that all of this life is drawing me in union with the Parent and Source of All.
[Image Credit: Public Domain via Pixabay]