Thursday, 25 December 2014

One Day at a Time: away for the holidays . . .distance between families Part 4 (and final)

The Pohutakawa tree--New Zealand's Christmas blossom
For the holidays, with family foremost in our mind, I asked my three adult (birth) children to help me answer the frequent question I am asked: how do you handle being so far from your kids/family?  You can read the first post in the series HERE.

Rachel, 27, who had her first baby in the past year, answered first-- you can find that blog entry HERE.

Keegan, 20.5, who has beat some remarkable odds at his age, answered second and THIS is where you will find the post regarding his response.

In the final post of this series Luke, 24 has responded:

Having my family move away from me is somewhat of a bittersweet experience.  Four thousand miles is a long (and expensive) way to go every time you want to see your family, and because of that we don't get to see each other as often as we want to. Luckily, there has been enough reasons for them to come here in the past year (a wedding, a baby) so we have seen each other a good amount during that time. And when those times occur it has been wonderful "quality time" and that is the paradox of having family that lives for away; you don't see each other as often but when you do it's more special.  You appreciate your time together more because it is a rare thing. I live 3.5 hours away from the rest of my family and see them about once every 1-2 months if not more often. Though our time together is super special to me, it's not as intense as family time with people who you are not positive when you're going to see them again. Everything said, I don't think my mom moving away has hindered our relationship at all. This is the age of Facebook, email, Skype, etc. and in a way, being 4,000 miles away isn't as different as being 40 miles away as it used to be.
One thing I know for near certainty, and I think it's my relationship with Luke that has really brought it home, is that having the distance has meant that when we have time together, I've been able to have experiences with him (them) that I likely wouldn't have otherwise.

Serendipity has been a bit of a buzz word for me because of its frequent appearance.

The last visit I made to Illinois Luke spent a lot of time with us in Springfield, but went back to Chicago prior to me. 

It just so happened that during my last few days in Chicago, Luke accompanied me to see my best friend in an amazing theatrical piece, we walked downtown and took in the art museum, dropped the kids at a party and bummed around the neighbourhood,and I was able to see him in two shows on subsequent nights-- in a band he's in, The Kuhl's, and his band Luke Henry & Rabbitfoot. 


What are the chances?

And none of that planning was timed.

Last year I was in the US at the time of his birthday and a couple girlfriends and I were able to attend his house concert where video was shot.(colour me thrilled)

Luke always makes a point of coming to Springfield and spending as many days with me/us as possible when we are back for visits. 

There is no greater joy than seeing your adult children really wanting to be with you.

I appreciate their genuine desire and effort more than they will ever know.

Each child, of course, brings a unique relationship and bond and with my birth children (and bonus-kids) I feel a very strong connection.

With the adult children the transition from parent-child to "friends" is absolutely undeniable.  

We get each other. 

Thanks to the internet we are in VERY frequent contact.  

And I can attest that texts would frequently go unanswered when we lived in the same town, but as they have all reflected on-- the distance has given us all a renewed appreciation of each other.

And it has given me space to sit back and watch them blossom into the lovely, responsible and creative adults that they are.

And stay out of their business, unless they want me in it. (all ya'll parents know exactly what I mean . . . they didn't give us instructions on now to put the caring/action/hover button on hold once our kids are out of our house; it takes practice)

One time when Keegan and Luke both visited New Zealand, I took Keegan to the airport a week or so prior to Luke leaving.

When I got back I was in a tear-stained heap.  It doesn't matter how old your kids are . . . for me there is something about seeing them physically fly away in a not-very-big-airplane from our small local airport that physically and emotionally feels like a piece of my heart is being ripped out.

It leaves me an emotional wreck for a chunk of time.

Snivelling still, Luke comforted me, "Mom, think about it. When would you ever have weeks on end, uninterrupted, with your adult children? This distance has allowed that to happen."

That was a particularly long visit for them and it especially highlighted that fact.

When we are together we are so TOGETHER.

The same as it has been with my BFF, my new granddaughter Bernadette. My last visit allowed me to have her every day all day (and nights) for several days. And my 92 year old mother and lots of kids, and other family, were with us much of the time.

When we lived in the same town there were pop ins for a hello or occasional family meals, but not the heart to hearts we have had in the past years I've been in New Zealand.

And there will never be a Christmas eve, just like tonight, that I don't miss the days our house was full of children, or my oldest were toddlers caught up in the awe.

But it is important to delineate between missing my "babies" and those times that sadly, I will never have again, and missing a relationship with my adult children.

So yes, of course, I am not in physical contact with our family in the US as much as we would be if we lived there, but the relationships have deepened, and ripened and --for us-- it works.

One day at a time.

from our scattered whanau to yours-- we wish you
the happiest of holidays
and a blessed New Year
Luke Otwell is a graduate of Columbia College and currently works in several capacities in the music industry in Chicago.  You can hear Luke Henry & Rabbitfoot on SoundCloud, find him at Band Camp, follow his Facebook page, see him perform live in Chicago, (and soon in NZ, again, we hope) and anticipate the release of his album in 2015.

and a very special shout of thanks to RacheLuKeegan who so generously contributed to this series and somewhere in my heart and mind will ALWAYS look like this:

Love knows no distance where hearts may feel its joy . . .

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