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The Long Distance Family Challenge

Social distancing has been well-kept in my family, with my husband stuck in Canada and my mother’s husband—my father—staying in Sichuan. This is not the first time I have faced the challenges long-distance relationships bring.

My father traveled to Hubei in search of a better job when I was in primary school. Keeping in touch was difficult. We didn’t have access to the internet or email, and long-distance phone calls were expensive. Most exchanges were by snail mail. It normally took one week to get a reply.

I felt extremely happy when my father finally decided it was not worth it and came home. He brought me a beautiful red-down jacket as a gift from Hubei, which was way too big for me.

“Aiya, you haven’t grown much in the past six months, have you? I assumed that you would have been much taller,” my father joked.

I didn’t tell him that his return was the best gift. After he came back, my mother was less stressed and happier.

The COVID-19 crisis has put us in a position where, once again, we are separated by distance.

Although his tricks are sometimes annoying, I appreciate the changes he has brought to me over the years.

“I know it is difficult to change the way you communicate with your parents. I sincerely want you to have a healthier relationship with Jaden,” he told me.

I never begrudge saying “love,” “sorry” or “thank you” to my son. I tell him I love him every day.

For my husband, it is even more difficult. Our son Jaden is only three years old, and John particularly feels separated from him. John is not there for many of Jaden’s achievements and milestones. He tries to keep in mind how fortunate we are to live in a world where every day he can video call Jaden and me. They sing together as he teaches him the actions and watches him copy them.

However, it can be discouraging on the days when John calls and Jaden simply isn’t interested in talking with his daddy and is far more interested in watching a video.

John and I talk more about our daily lives than we did when we were physically together. We may have less time to talk each day, but the quality of the conversation is much higher.

It is quite similar to my parents. When my father was here, every once in a while, I had to intervene when my parents were arguing and try not to take sides. As it goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

A long-distance relationship is not unbearable for me, but it is far from being ideal. I would prefer we were all together, be it in China or Canada.

I know someday we will have to choose one, but I know either way we will stay together as a family. That is how I make it through the day.