In this blog, I’d like to share a bit more about being open, vulnerable and showing your emotions to your child at a distance.
Being a long-distance auntie
I’d like to share a recent experience about what it’s like to be an auntie at a distance and what it does to me.
My little loved one is in Australia and I haven’t seen her in real life since January 2020. She is now 2 years old, and she was still a baby last time I saw her. Now she’s running around, talking like a little human.
Most days are totally fine, but some days are really hard. I find it’s not just the good times and the hard times, but also the simple smaller things that you miss out on, that really make it hard.
Sometimes when you had a rough day, the distraction of playing with a child really makes me forget about my grown up problems. Sometimes all you need is a hug, kiss or playful activity – it sounds strange, but it can be really relieving to do a scream or fart sound contest with a two-year-old when video calling.
Recently, I had a difficult moment during a live video call with my niece. Whilst we were calling, I could tell she had learned new words and tricks and was so proud to show them to me.
We often video call during bath time and her mom (my sis) would say “show auntie Anieke how good you can swim!”. She took the cue as an Olympic champion and started waving her little hands up and down with the most serious face – splashing water everywhere. I clapped my hands and praised her for being such a good swimmer, and my sister said: “we’ll practice some more tomorrow during swimming classes”. And she responded, “can auntie Anieke come?”
It just struck me straight in my heart because there’s nothing I’d rather do more than to join her swimming class, but as you can imagine that’s quite impossible. A feeling of deep sadness suddenly overtook me and I could feel tears streaming down my face.
Rather than looking away and hiding them, I kept looking at my niece just muddling around. My sadness somehow made way for a warm and proud feeling of how fast she’s growing, what a beautiful little person she’s becoming and that I’m grateful that I can be a part of that regardless of the distance. My tears of sadness became tears of joy and pride.
My niece noticed my tears, pointing at the camera. I could tell she was curious. I told her that they were tears of pride and joy and that I loved her very much.
I know some of you might be reading this, recognizing the pain. I know it can be very painful not being physically near the child(ren) you love, but please don’t let the pain get in the way of the beautiful bond you can build together. The fear of the pain of missing out doesn’t outweigh the joys of having a child in your life.
Ever since I started working on Peekabond I tried to figure out the barriers of people building a bond with a child at a distance, and an “excuse” I often hear is that it takes a lot of work and effort. I sometimes feel that that’s just a “layer” covering the fact that it can be really scary to open up your heart and love someone who is far away.
Children have the magical power to make you feel in the “here and now”, alive, playful, young again.
Find out what works for you, what hooks you can find to have fun together and create that bond and cherish it deeply. Because isn’t that what life is all about?
Founder of Peekabond
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