We who live far from our grown kids take solace in the "up" side of distance. When we visit them it is usually for a few days or even longer and those visits can be festive, busy and intense. For a few fleeting days we are part of their everyday lives: We see up close and personally how they live. We pick up on quotidian minutia that they don't discuss with us on Face Time or in texts. It's more intimate and revealing than having children live nearby and dropping by for an hour here and a dinner there.
But there's a trade-off. They're here today and gone in another day or two. A friend whose daughter flew in for a two-day visit, texted me in mid-visit: "My apartment is full of life! Today I know what I am missing."
Say no more. I know exactly what she means.
We are disciplined about being independent. These visits--whether we go to them or they come to us--are a reminder of the price of that discipline. We're not "sweeping up the heart/and putting love away" but the reality is our grown kids live far from us and lead lives very much apart from ours. We can't meet them spontaneously for a Saturday morning coffee. Paterfamilias and I have stopped going to Chinese restaurants on Sunday evenings--they are too filled with three generations of family laughing and talking and sharing fried rice and moo shi pork. And we're not.
While the long visits we get are wonderful and "full of life," they are a reminder of how much we miss our children and their families, of how we discipline ourselves not to think about the loss and the excitement the younger generation, whose lives are on fire, bring into our lives.