Staying Connected with Your KIds When They Live at the Other House

bonding with your children after divorceMy youngest daughter is living with her dad and stepmom now and I often miss her.

While it makes me happy to know that she’s thriving there (and at almost 13, that’s quite a feat!), I still can’t quite get used to her room being empty most of the time and not having her snooping around in the kitchen or spreading out her drawing supplies all over the family room ever day.

Mentally, she seems so far away, because it’s a 30 minute trip to their house and somehow, that “one-hour roundtrip” phrase just sounds in my head like an ominous gong.  Us poor South Austinites – whining about driving anywhere that takes longer than seven minutes….

But then it occurred to me.

This is my daughter!  I miss her! She’s only getting older!  Pretty soon I’ll be bidding her farewell at the train station or the airport or maybe just the massive, metal college doors and then what will I look back on as far as the moments we had together?!

So I thought, fuck it, who cares about the cost of gas and the time spent in the car?

I want to see her more than the once a week she comes home on Sundays.  So now, we have a standing dinner date every Wednesday.  Last week was our first date.  And I’m just about to go pick her up after I finish writing this.

Aside from how much fun we had last week and the easing of guilt over not seeing her more, here’s one thing that really makes this worth it: her reaction.  Oh my god, talk about warming a mother’s heart…. When I told her I wanted to come see her every Wednesday and go out, just her and I, she lit up with such excitement and surprise.  My baby!!

And that’s just from something I’ll be doing ONCE A WEEK!

But it’s a chance to connect, a chance to spend time. 

In essence, it’s a chance to tell her in so many words that she’s important to me and she’s a priority in my life.  That’s worth all the gas in the world.   And more.

So if you’re living away from one of your children, how about doing a little brainstorming to see what kind of outside-the-box solution you can come up with to stay connected and in touch? 

To show them that amidst the five million things competing for your time and attention, you’re windshield-wiping it all off the table, just be there and hear/be/feel/do whatever.

Whether it’s sending regular emails, talking on the phone (make sure you have a common topic to connect with to avoid the “uhhhhhs” and bored “mmmhmmmms”), or meeting for weekly dinner dates, there’s bound to be SOME solution you can find that works for you.  Maybe you can look into something you know THEY’RE really into just to have a “in” for conversation – think of how tickled they’d be.

I’d love to hear what other folks come up with.

And now, I’m off to stuff my face with quiche, decaf coffee and perhaps a strawberry napoleon at the aptly-named La Madeleine’s!

 

© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved

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Comments

  1. My baby is only two months old and I don’t feel like I get enough time with her, even though I’m with her for a couple of awake hours per day. Your article made me think that it might be a good idea to set aside time with her… carve out a set time every day that is “daddy time.” Thanks!

  2. What about sending her cards or quick notes in the mail? I know you mentioned email, but there is just something so wonderful about receiving a card or handwritten note in the mailbox. Also quick texts can let someone know that you are thinking about them. Also, if you can fit it in, allow her to select a book that you and her can read together and discuss.

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