Sigh…this is what my daughter said to me in a text last night, “I wish you were here.”. Gulp. Those are hard words for mom to hear from so far away. Especially when I know she’s having a particularly difficult day and really just wants to connect with her mom. Its times like this when I wonder, “Am I a terrible mom for moving so far away?”…Most of the time my daughters life is so fast paced and busy she doesn’t have time to think about me or miss me much, which is as it should be. This dynamic between the two of us was the same when we lived nearby, so its not completely a function of my living in Central America. When we lived near each other I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks on end and I’d be sad that we didn’t spend more time together. Kids grow up and go their own way, which is what’s supposed to happen. But the hardest thing is not having the ability to spontaneously drop by to get a hug every once in a blue moon when we need it.
Way back when Scott and I were dreaming about this move to Panama my daughter said, “Mom, I want you to do whatever makes you happy.” She was and always has been, so supportive and she still is my most fervent supporter. But, last night she really wanted her mom, and I so wished I could just give her a hug . Normally I can FaceTime or Skype or even call her on my Magic Jack, but at the moment we have no internet in the casita. My only way to connect right now is by text messaging on my iPad using my data plan. And words on a screen just don’t always cut it when you just want to be near your mom.
Most people I talk with about the decision we made to move to Central America want to know about how I stay in touch with my friends and family back in California. For people who are considering a move like this, keeping in touch with loved ones is a huge consideration. How do you maintain connections with all the people you care about? To tell the truth this is such a hard one. It’s not easy to maintain connections and to nurture relationships with people living so far away. The natural progression of life , when one moves to a far away place has a tendency to create distance in more than just geography. I don’t think there’s any way around this eventuality, at least to a certain degree. But with modern technology I find that there are so many various ways to try to nurture relationships and stay connected. The tricky part that can be tough is that there needs to be a mutual desire and commitment to maintain relationships you left
Truth be told, moving to Panama naturally necessitates a certain amount of proactive, thoughtful determination to maintain connections. The reality is, I was already feeling similar feelings of missing my friends even when I lived in the same country as them. Our lives in the Silicon Valley was a flurry of constant, exhaustive work which made it very hard to spend time with friends and family. Friendships and connectivity is not something that just comes with no intentions, no matter where you live. To be a person who has strong, lasting relationships one must assert a certain amount of energy into nurturing those connections, no matter where you live.
This is much easier to say than it is to actually do. I know for me when I have down time from work or just from being so constantly busy it’s very precious time. There are times when I don’t even feel like talking with Scott, much less chatting on the phone or arranging a get together with friends Via Skype or Face Time to catch up. So It’s no mystery how long distance friendships can begin to feel as though they are fading a bit. As my days fly by and they’re filled with activities and work that I’m enjoying, I find myself thinking lately about those who I’m beginning to feel sort of distanced from. It’s kinda sad, but what did I expect? It’s often hard , (for me, anyways), to know exactly what to expect until I’m actually experiencing it.
Mind you, this is just my own experience. And again I believe its a function of simply making it a priority to maintain close connections with people back home. I know others who video chat with family back home nearly everyday, but this just doesn’t seem to be my own experience. Although, truth be told, I craved more connection with my daughter even when we lived in the same area. Life just gets busy and before you realize it months have gone by without seeing her. It’s no one’s fault, just the reality of being busy. And, combine being busy with living in a different country and wow! Like I said, I think the reality is that if you desire to maintain close meaningful connections while living so far apart it takes work, and consistency from both ends of the phone or texts or video chats.
I’ve really learned just how essential modern technology is for us to all stay connected. Before I moved to Panama I had never even looked at a Facebook page. In the back of my mind I knew that I would probably eventually need to dive in and join the rest of the civilized world in that crazy Facebook craze. But I had so many people just right in front of me at the time who I could connect with on a daily basis while I was living in the States. I never saw the need to jump into the Facebook world. Of course as my move got closer and closer to becoming a reality I decided I had better get myself set up with my very own Facebook account as a way to keep connections with friends. That’s when I finally downloaded the Facebook App and started, reluctantly, to explore that crazy world. I will admit, it’s pretty cool. And I’ve discovered what a wonderful thing it is for a ‘people’ person such as myself, to maintain important connections to friends back in California
I’ve found that modern technology has been the best, most simple and cheapest way to hold onto all those people who mean so much to me. Between Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, Magic Jack, I messaging, and my Blog, I have plenty of options for keeping in touch. The hard part is trying to set aside time, or trying to get others to set aside time, to use one of these methods of communication to keep in touch . I find myself , especially during holidays, simply going through my address book on my iPad and sending out text messages to all the people I never want to lose touch with. And, it’s a lot of people! Hah! I just love this simple, free, fast method of keeping people in my life even if its just a simple text message every once in awhile. While my blog keeps everyone from my life in California informed about what I’m up to, its a very one-sided communication so I get really excited when someone actually takes a few minutes to write me an email (hint, hint!) . Although I know writing emails takes time and the reality is that most people have way too much going on in their lives to even think about writing the occasional email. I’m guilty of the same thing.
As we’ve all experienced, friendships naturally morph and change through the years. And long lasting friendships can go through lots of changes and still remain as meaningful as ever. Never having moved to a new place before,( I had only ever lived in California before making this move to Panama), I’m learning about this for the first time. I’ve had friends in the past who have moved away from me but I’ve never been on this end of the move and let me tell you, its not easy. When asked about this subject by people who are considering making a move such as we have done I can only say, “That’s a hard one.” While it’s true that Modern technology does provide a ton of easy and free ways to keep in touch, nothing is ever the same as being there. Although, I still wouldn’t trade this experience of living here in Panama for anything! And everyone who knows me and cares about me understands and supports me no matter where I call home. The subject of keeping in touch and maintaining important relationships from afar is one that while it may be hard, it’s worth the work. I’ll just keep on dragging you all along on my Adventure through this silly little blog whether you like it or not! Hah!
Holly I really connected with your post. No matter how supportive our kids are there will always be THOSE TIMES. My 32 year old son called us on FaceTime yesterday and it didn’t take me long to figure out he was not at home and I recognized a hospital room. His diagnosis is diverticulitis and he will be fine and is likely going home today but it tugs at a mom’s heart to be far away when life happens. Your post was so timely for me. Love my kids but love my life. Yes, keeping in touch is important. Hang in there Holly, you’ll get through it.
Mom hugs to you
Great post, Holly~ My daughters are 19 and 20 and we are retired now and looking to relocate. They are so afraid of our leaving and have equated it to abandonment. We will only be taking long trips for a few years so we’ve tried to reassure them. It is hard now and will be hard when we finally can stay long term elsewhere. They will into self assured (hopefully, lol) independent people so won’t rely on us so much.
as the daughter who moved away, i can definitely sympathize – i’ve had a few “i wish my mom were here” moments recently. whenever she is missing me, i try to provide some type of comfort by reminding her what a good job she did raising a daughter who is so independent and can get along by herself but still loves her mom 🙂 i got her used to it early though, by moving away for college! then a country pretty close to home… next one will probably be further though! mariah is awesome and just having a daughter that feels comfortable enough saying “i wish you were here” is a tribute to you – i know how much strength it took for me to tell my mom that a few months ago! independent but able to ask for help and support = one awesome daughter. nicely done madre!
Holly, when House Hunters did back story on us recently, the producer interviewed our daughter. One of the things she did say (when answering a question about us leaving her) is that her dad made it so that we could be available to her no matter what, technologically speaking, and this made me feel really great! Our girls know we didn’t just make the decision to move away overnight, and they know we are here for them always. We try everything we can to be there for them and to also encourage them to grow on their own. Use the support you have (physically) in CA to help you during these times also by having those around Mariah do a “drive by”. 🙂 And continue using your blog as a release for your feelings 🙂