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Vail Family Matters: Bonds with kids survive separation

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –My oldest son flew in from California today. The snowfall was just enough to make us a little late in getting to the airport to pick him up, so when we arrived, he was already waiting with his luggage in the parking garage.

Before the car even came to a complete stop, my 12 year old jumped out, raced toward him and gave him what my kids call a “Notebook hug” (a running and jumping into someone’s arms hug). If any of you out there haven’t seen the romantic movie, “The Notebook,” shame on you. You must see it immediately. Right now.

Because my husband loves me, my son is flown in often – but never often enough for me. Having everyone together around my dinner table is just a beautiful thing.

Don’t misunderstand, I am absolutely not one of those mothers who cannot let go. I never (almost) make suggestions for a future wife I have in mind; I rarely (sort of) make my son feel guilty he’s not nearby; and I only occasionally tell him what a perfect place the state of Colorado is for 22 year olds, particularly Eagle County, particularly the town of Edwards – Singletree is awfully nice. I truly don’t want him to live with his mom his entire life, honestly. But is it too much to ask to have him live next door, or at least in the same town? I didn’t think so.

Who wants to be separated from the people in this world they love most? I don’t even like to be separated from my favorite pair of shoes – definitely not my coffee maker. But often the ones you’re away from are your kids and, as much as it doesn’t feel quite natural, it really is.

I remember reading once that it was character forming – the separation. I’m here to say that’s well and good, but it’s been long enough. My character is very formed. He can move closer now. I guess I’d better start getting good at this because I have three more I can’t live without who still live at home. One is about to turn 17 and is eyeing Los Angeles (not Singletree) as an optimal place to settle into adulthood.

I’m searching for positive things in the long-distance relationship. Here’s one: nothing’s better than when your child calls home, which mine often does. I love the random text messages too, notifying me of a great movie or the latest news on the girlfriend front.

As I was wandering through the grocery store the other day, my phone rang. It was my oldest son calling and I was listening and laughing for a while.

When I was finished and paying for my groceries, a stunning woman came up behind me. She was dressed in a full-length fur (I tightly held my political tongue) and she asked if it was my son who had called me on the produce aisle. She told me how fortunate I was.

She said she had made many mistakes with her own son, he never called, and they certainly never laughed together. She had everything she thought she wanted, but little to no relationship with her only son. Quite composed (for me), I gave her a hug and told her she should give him a call; reaching out is never a bad idea. I

didn’t get teary until I was in my car. She was so right. I am lucky. I have spent my time cultivating the relationships dearest to me. I have a grown son who calls me all the time just to talk about his daily life and who visits as often as he can.

My bond with my four kids is unique and doing without all of them on a daily basis will be harsh. But, I’m beginning to appreciate the idea of their independence and having time for things in my own life besides laundry (I’m sure my husband is eagerly making his list).

I’m grateful to the lovely but heartbroken woman in the market who made me realize how very privileged I am to have these superb individuals in my life in any capacity. Even over the phone. Even if they don’t live next door.

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments to jillscolumn@gmail.com.


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