There is Power in Absence

A little distance in love can provide a refreshing perspective and personal growth.

It was 6:35am. We were having as relaxing breakfast on a weekday morning before the children departed for school. Seated around the dining table, there was lively chatter in anticipation of the day ahead. Then one of the children realised that I would not be home to greet them after school, “Mom, we have to say goodbye to you now! You won’t be here when we get home today.” I nodded. Like a burglar tip toeing, escaping a scene of a heist, I was hoping for an uneventful departure. Instead the alarm had been triggered and instantaneously the atmosphere of the room changed. Someone annoyed the other and there was a confrontation. Tears streaked, pouts extended, feet stomped, voices became louder as they each competed to share those precious few seconds of my time and presence. I was leaving that afternoon for a week to visit my parents. On the sudden reminder of my impending absence, emotions ran high. This heightened state of awareness was exactly what I had hoped to avoid by speaking openly throughout the week, exchanging calm goodbyes, warm hugs and wholehearted good wishes.

No amount of planning or preparation spared us from this morning’s collaborative outburst. I stood up from my seat and bellowed. Admittedly, not the most patient or forgiving of reactions but it silenced them all. “Girls! We have five minutes before I won’t be seeing you for a week. Please!” I then walked over to each of them and reassured them with hugs and kisses. No words were exchanged as I held each of them. Words of assurance and comfort had already been spoken in the preceding days.

While this is a line is from a poem on love and marriage from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, I believe it aptly describes the relationship between parent and child:

And the oak tree and the cypress

grow not in each other’s shadow.

While it is never easy to be away from our children, there is great power in absence. In the physical separation, there remains a strong connection. We communicate and listen with our hearts. We recall and listen to each other’s words and wisdom in calm reflection. Away from ego and judgment, we may even take the other’s advice and suggestions, after all, the individual is not there to smirk or bask in the glory of being right!

Leave a Reply