Long-Distance Parenting & Overseas Jobs: Are They Lost Years or a Worthy Sacrifice?

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a Mother’s Day year 2019. Am sitting at my desk working as usual and wondering what the hell am doing here….it happens a lot. I get work jitters sometimes because am working away from home. It’s really tough being away from your child for long periods.

Work here never stops, every day is a Monday and so this to me was a day just like any other day. All mothers and colleagues exchanged mother’s day pleasantries for a minute and everything went back to normal.

A few hours later I receive a very hearty, very beautiful mother’s day message from my daughter, my heart swells with overwhelming love and pride. First because she made me a mother and It has been a wonderful experience (of course there have been a thousand moments when I just want to throw her through the window or scream at the top of my lungs), secondly because the message was so cute and deep!

My first reactions were…. aaww… that’s so cute 😊! Then the mother in me was like, wait a minute…. that text is quite deep and heavy, who taught her to text like that?  Could she be texting or receiving heavy texts from boys? Lol…see my life!

You see, having a teenage baby keeps you on a permanent fright mode, you panic from everything and nothing. You always tend to think they are up to something fishy or hiding something. Anyway, I then choose to be a good mother and appreciate the text for what it really is, an awesome message accompanied by several pictures the two us had taken, isn’t she thoughtful? She knows how I treasure memories and how much I love pictures. She is her mother’s daughter this one, bless you my baby girl 😊. 

 I go through the pictures, admiring them and how big she has become, time really flies and I really do miss when she was just a little baby. I wish there was a button I could press and shrink her back to enjoy her as a baby all over again, even if it’s just for a moment. I find my mind drifting off and thinking of what our life has become.

I go home at least twice a year. So far I have been a long distance parent for 5 years and I can’t help but feel a cocktail of emotions. The emotions are pride, thankfulness with a mixture of loss and regrets. The pride is for what I have been able to achieve for myself and my family, thankfulness is to the Most High for honoring me with an opportunity of a job that has enabled me to travel and experience a different setting of life and work.

Lemmi take you back a little to when this journey began. I got this job at a moment when I had reached the end of my tether with my previous job. I remember it like yesterday, that point in life when I was so low and so broke, I had applied for a dozen jobs with no luck.  So, one day, I took a pen and paper and decided to write my boss a letter requesting for a pay increase, something I had done severally without success. I was earning a minuscule salary and I was extremely tired of stretching it to make it work.

I am usually open about my life but sometimes I feel embarrassed to mention what I was earning then, I had worked hard for seven years but it was painfully little and yet I had big responsibilities. Sometimes I would find a receipt on my boss’s desk from her shopping on food stuffs only and the amount would make me feel so sad and sorry for myself, the difference it had with my salary was absurd. Yet she knew I had a family to feed and life was hard.

I don’t know if she ever thought of how I felt.  If you are an employer and you are reading this, please try to be fair to your employees when paying them, put yourself in their shoes and if you can, please make their pay worth their while.

Anyway, I settled down to write my letter and halfway through, at one point I got so sad and emotional that I broke down and cried. I cried so hard, the emotional pain and the financial burden of the struggles was utterly overwhelming. I went on my knees and asked God to give me a new job, I told him I really needed a fresh start. I needed a good job and I wished that the job would be out of the country, I was just tired of everything.

God is an amazing God, sometimes He can bless you until you are dumbfounded. He came through for me with a bang! and He didn’t just come through, He honored every single request that I had asked for in that prayer to the letter.

Within a few months I got a nice job, the salary? tenfold, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. It was out of the country just as I had requested. My reaction? I was filled with awe, I couldn’t believe it, I learned that, at that critical moment when you are at the end of your wits, that’s when God steps in and comes through for you.

He will leave you reeling and staggering from his mighty presence in your life. That marked the beginning of my earnest spiritual journey, I was stunned, I wanted me some more of this amazing God in my life. I can never be thankful enough for that blessing, I call it a LANDMARK event, my life took a major drastic turn for the best 😊! This miracle and others, are some of the things I talked about in my previous article on Life Beacons and Landmarks

Now, everything in life even the best things we own have their shortcomings. The feelings of loss and regrets in this case, which sometimes can really be consuming are for all the moments and milestones that I have missed in my own personal life, my daughter’s and other loved ones while away in this place and job.

Sometimes these feelings can really be confusing and intense, one minute I am feeling so damn good about myself, my achievements and the far that I have come because honestly, I have come from farthest, from the very bottom of the barrel of life.

The next minute my mind skips to the fact that I have missed a vital five years of being with my daughter and the worst part is the fact that she is now a teenager. A critical stage when a mother needs to be around her kid and I am not there. You have no idea how difficult and draining it is to handle or deal with a difficult child over the phone or on a Video chat, by the way I really dislike video chatting, I just don’t like it.

I can’t help the overwhelming feeling of guilt and sadness that creeps upon me sometimes. Makes me question myself, am I failing my child as a parent? For these, I thank God for giving me such a strong spirited and outgoing child. Her personality makes it a bit easier.

Yes, I have awesome people taking care of her and she doesn’t lack for nothing but having someone else take care of your kid is not the same as you doing it. You have the best interests at heart for your child in everything and you will always go out of your way to ensure you give them the best especially things that money can’t buy.

You want to be there when they hurt their knee, when they have a headache, when they make the tiniest achievements that someone else can just brush off without interest.

Some of these little things are what creates a unique character in each child.  For example, I grew up in church, I was a very active child, we had all sorts of interactive programs that the PCEA church has for kids of every age. I remember all the competitions we had, all the trips the church took us on, the good times we had with friends when we would go to church for rehearsals for whatever event.

They are the best childhood memories and I had hoped for the same for my baby because she loves outdoor activities. Unfortunately, neither of her guardians is really church oriented nor do they share my sentiments about such activities.

Due to that fact, she has not been able to experience all that fun with a proper Christian foundation that I would have loved for her to have from the home frontL. This is just one of the many situations that I can’t control or give my child while am away.

I have missed loads and loads of life moments, school events, home works, parent meetings, Christmases, birthdays, weddings, funerals, friendships have died, family ties have loosened, and many other opportunities have been lost.

The list of missed things is endless!  Most of these events are phenomenal in life, they are what makes life worth living, they are the essence, the landmarks of what life really is, money just enhances the color and how each of them is experienced. With or without money a special moment will be made.

Meanwhile, over here it’s just work and nothing much else. Sometimes I just sit and wonder, is it really worth it? Is the money worth all this sacrifice? Years have rushed by and suddenly she is 14 yrs and I am in my thirties, I left for the very first time when she was 7 yrs old.

I remember vividly how she cried painfully when I told her I was leaving again later, a heartbreaking moment L She still doesn’t have siblings because well, I have been busy trying to make bread and time to make babies doesn’t ever seem right.

This is a major sacrifice from mothers and women around the world, working overseas chasing money and careers. Your youthful years pass you by. You wake up one day and realize that your ship has sailed, and you are now too old to have babies.

You have a bank load of cash or worse, you are still struggling to make it, but time is no longer on your side, it left! You are left with this sad question whether all those years you were away, are they wasted years or a worthy sacrifice? All in all I am still thankful for everything in my life and for the strength to overcome these challenges as I continue to ponder and reflect about life.

May God guide me and always lead me in the right paths 🙂

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