A Father’s Investment: that thing called separation anxiety
Six weeks is a very long time to be away from my husband. It’s not the most ideal situation and definitely not a common practice for a vacation. But here we are, millions of miles away and across the globe experiencing this separation for the first time in our marriage.
I have to admit, it wasn’t such a bad idea when we first discussed it since we considered all the factors involved. We also prayed about the situation for a while. But boy is it way harder than I thought. Judging by the way our oldest son has been acting, it is safe to say that we are not handling this situation well. I didn’t realize how much a two and a half year old would understand the words, I MISS YOU. He’s been showing it to me the past couple of days and it broke my heart every time.
A few nights ago, as we said our goodbyes, gave our last hugs, and prayed our last prayer together as a family, we explained to our boys that daddy needed to go to the airport, ride the airplane, and fly home to go back to work. Micah sat on his daddy’s lap and held him extra tight. We told him that Mommy, Titus, and Micah would be staying for another six weeks so we could spend more time with his grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins.
Chris explained that this would be a great time for him to enjoy his family and spend time with his cousins here in the Philippines. Micah nodded in agreement and he seemed to understand what was being explained to him. He said “Papa, you will ride the airplane in the airport so you can go back to work, right Papa?” Chris said yes and told him that he expected great daily reports and exciting stories every day when we talk on the phone. He reminded Micah that it was very important for him to obey and respect Mama and take care of his little brother.
As we drove to the airport, Micah and Titus sat on Chris’ lap and were both surprisingly well behaved and quite silent. As we held hands, I felt like jumping the gun and purchasing last minute tickets to fly home with him. Six weeks never felt like such a long time! I saw the way the boys hugged their dad and looked at him admiringly with eyes filled with sadness as they said goodbye. It broke my heart as Micah whispered during the car ride, “Papa, I will miss you, Papa.” Such simple words yet so profound and so powerful. Chris was dumbfounded by his son’s sincere words. He hugged them and said, “I will miss you, too. I love you so much.”
As I sit here and replay this scene in my mind, tears are rolling down my cheeks. Emotions are running through my heart. My boys LOVE their father. Micah repeated these words a couple more times during the seemingly short ride to the airport. Chris responded with sincere reassurance of his love and care for them. Their vulnerability showed me how fragile and tender all their hearts were. Those father and son moments were quickly photographed in my mind and captured in my heart. Micah held on to me a little tighter that night as we drove back home.
As tears rolled down my cheeks, he quietly kissed my face, as if telling me, “It’s ok mom, I’m here.” He prayed for his dad as he held my hand and wiped my tear away. My heart was full yet broken. He repeatedly told me that he misses his papa. He tried to stay strong and held back his tears. But before bed last night, he broke down. He sobbed as we prepared to say goodnight. He told me, “Mama, I miss papa. I miss papa. I want him to come home.” Titus joined in the choir, too. Micah concluded that Titus was sad and misses Papa, too. He asked me if I was crying because I also missed Papa. The three of us held each other and cried together as I prayed with them. Titus was so uneasy and found it difficult to settle down for bed. But as soon as I sang the song only Chris sings to the boys he settled down and finally fell asleep. I guess my wise toddler was right. His little brother was indeed missing their father. Only God’s embrace could comfort us now. We rested in His arms and trusted in His calm assurance.
This sea of sadness created an opportunity for me to share with Micah how it is okay for us to process our feelings and share it with God. I told him that Mommy and Daddy feel sad too even if we are old. I shared with him that God comforts those who are sad and makes them feel better because He promises never to leave us. Even though Daddy is far away, he will not stopping loving us and that we will see him again soon. We called Chris and chatted with him while he waited to board the aircraft because Micah wanted to hear his daddy’s voice.
That night, Micah chose to read Noah’s Ark as his Bible story before bed. He said, “Mama, I want Noah’s Ark because God takes care of Noah.” I guess he knew in his heart, God is taking care of him, too. It was a simple reminder that taught me to trust in God’s hand through it all.
These days have been quite rough, both for him and for me. Even though I tried to fill his days with a fun trip to a play area and the park with his cousins and soccer practice, he still had his moments of sadness. At one point, I found him sitting at a corner with tears rolling down his face. As I went over and asked him what was wrong, he gave me a huge hug and told me, “Mama please hold me. I miss my papa. I really miss my papa.” I couldn’t help but have my own set of silent tears roll down. I just said, “I miss him too, sweetheart. I miss him, too.”
He just needed a few minutes to hold me in complete silence and then he was fine. We had a couple of these moments and I treasured them. At one point he even said, “Mama I’m having so much fun, I wish papa was here. He will have fun, too, right mama?” Wow. I didn’t realize he could comprehend such things. He understood and truly loved being around his dad. I never thought he would understand and process his feelings in such a mature way. It opened my eyes and highlighted the importance of a father’s role and influence in his son’s life.
I was so glad my husband invested so much in his son that in those moments of laughter and joy, my son wanted to share them with him. As I contemplate on the time my husband sets aside to remind his boys how much he loves him and enjoys being with them, my eyes are filled with tears of joy because I see the fruit of his labor through the comfort my boys find in his presence. Even my brother was moved and blessed by Micah’s heart towards his father.
I pray that the boys will not only find comfort in the loving arms of my husband but also ultimately they will see that our Heavenly Father loves and cares for them so much more. It says in Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I pray that they will take it to heart that God is always with them and though we will not be around all the time, He is and will always be.