My 2 kids still live on the “other coast” and it’s going on 5 years but the truth is we’re never really out of touch.
The amazing thing is I’ve seen my kids this year pretty much every month but recently, the 4 week gap had passed without a visit and suddenly our conversations were becoming quicker, testier and less frequent. I needed to hop on a plane.
The Iphone enables us to keep up, check in, and say good morning and good night. But the truth is, sometimes this type of communication feels like too many unfulfilling empty carbs with the inevitable carb crash…empty, depleted and sad. I needed some “protein.”
When this happens I start focusing on the distance which takes away from our sweet short convos.. And that’s the signal…the signal to hop on a plane and go!
Luckily, my kids are happy when I make the effort to fly across county. Their lives are getting more complex, jobs take up huge hours. Partners, friends and downtime are priorities and a visit with Mom isn’t first on the list. (That’s just the truth..the reality, and I finally get it and it’s taken me 5 years, I’m a slow learner).
I’ve written about these challenges before, but I’ve evolved since my last blog about the topic.
The truth is, I’m so proud of my kids’ work , what they are accomplishing and understand that their success is integral to their geography; the entertainment business for one, and tech for the other, that it makes sense for them to be where they are. Additionally their partners are also thriving on the west coast.
Reflecting on this week of kid visits, I am writing this post from 30k feet on a return flight from the 4 day visit to Seattle and a 3-day visit to L.A. And, I’m feeling content, calm and full as though i’ve finally eaten a well-rounded meal.
This morning my son Jake dropped me at the Seattle Airport at 7 am. On the drive we chatted about the city, the next visit, and what the rest of his day looked like. It was an easy, fluid and natural conversation that could be started and finished… truly a luxury.
I’m getting better with these real time visits because each time I come I realize how complex it is for the kids to clear their schedules and I’m so grateful that they do. This visit, my expectations were the most modest yet which made for the best I can remember.
Respecting their space and time constraints at mid-week meant hanging alone during the days (and I was ok with that) and squeezing in dinners at the end of their long work day. Extending over the weekend meant they would have to give up friend time so leaving super early Sunday morning so I didn’t hog the whole weekend made the best sense.
With each one we miraculously went on a full day adventure near their homes. We day tripped to golf in L.A. and day tripped to ski one-on-one in Seattle. In the evenings I was welcomed into lively dinners with their partners and I got to enjoy each of their special relationships.
But here’s the thing, proximity in and of itself was the gratifying gift I hadn’t anticipated. The craziest silver lining was, I didn’t have to be “with” them all the time to enjoy being there.
In each city half the time was alone time. One full morning in L.A. I Marie Condo’d on their apartment (with their permission) and trust me, it gave me more joy than I could have imagined. In Seattle, during my “free time”, I went to a yoga class and grocery shopping and did a little cooking. I was in their lives, around their lives, but not necessarily with them every second which was equally satisfying.
As I write this I realize there is no mystery as to why this trip went so well. The elements for success were in place: manageable expectations on my part, respect for their space, respect for their busy lives, and a mutual desire to be together. That’s it. That was the magic sauce and I’m hoping by writing this down, I’ll remember to do it again next time (when I’m invited).