Long Distance Mom

Today’s story in the Mosaic of Motherhood series come from my real life book club buddy, Debra McCullough. One of the great things about our book club is that we have women participating from different generations. As one of the younger participants, I get the best end of the deal hearing all these wise women share about motherhood and marriage from different stages of their lives, some of which I have yet to look forward to. I love hearing Deb’s stories of motherhood and grandmotherhood. (Kiddos, get ready. I really want to be a grandma one day!) Today Deb shares some of her hard gained wisdom with you. It is the next best thing to having her as a book club buddy (for that you’ll have to move to GA).  Just read with a North Dakota accent and enjoy 😉

mosaic of motherhood

I don’t know if the term “long distance” is used or understood in the jargon of today’s world, but at one time when people in North Dakota dialed or pushed ‘0’ on their phones (ok, land lines), chances are good that they may have heard me on the other end of that old cord board saying, “Operator, may I help you?”

Long distance mom

Deb back in her operator days with her mom

From the ranks of working moms, as we all seemed to be in those days of the 70’s, I was well-steeped in mom guilt. While suffering those pangs, I was also glad to have a comrade in my baby-sitter who helped with potty training, walking, talking…all those ‘firsts’ that she usually got to celebrate before me. That is the ying and yang of motherhood and it is a forever experience. I now have grown children and grandchildren, these little pieces of my heart, strewn all over the country. I don’t see them often enough but I do have a good life and have learned to be a long distance mom.

I was a long distance mom-in-training when my oldest daughter blasted off to college in Duluth, Minnesota, a full five hour drive from our home in West Fargo, North Dakota. There were joys in watching her grow up and learn to be independent, celebrating grades and new friendships…but there were also heart-wrenching times when she was ill and all I could do was dispense advice over the phone. I visited often. What was a five hour drive? Nothing!

When that same daughter graduated and moved to Washington State, the distance was much more challenging. I tried to visit twice a year, more if possible. But sometimes it wasn’t. Then Y2K—and a year of even more change. The good news is that we all survived Y2K despite its’ dire warnings of a crumbling world system.

I, too survived the changes coming with God’s help and the experience of Villa de Christo. I became a “4th dayer” and learned so much about listening for God, hearing Him, and obeying Him. God was preparing me for a bigger change and when it happened, I found myself in a new position with my company and living in Maryland. I left my youngest daughter in North Dakota, attending a local college.

Now I was a long distance mom to them both.

Keeping up with my girl’s lives was mainly a telephone experience. I had to learn, and am still learning, to avoid assumptions and jumping to conclusions. I tried to avoid complaining and giving unsolicited advice. Those days, long distance calls were expensive and I didn’t want to spend time and money apologizing or worrying about tone of voice. I just wanted to hear about their lives, the things I was missing out on.

By April 2002, both girls were married and I had my first experience of having sons, in my son-in-laws, and in my new family. I married a Georgia guy with two girls and a boy. Being a step-mom is one of the hardest, yet rewarding experiences of my life. Again, times were tough in the beginning, but love and having God as a partner, conquers all. We are blessed today with 12 grandchildren…the joys of our life!

No formula or recipe can trump prayer for my loved ones so far away. And I have also realized this to be true in my life:

  1. My most important relationship is with God. I must stay in daily contact with Him before my other relationships can thrive.
  2. By giving my children over to God when they were young, I didn’t worry about them. They are a gift from Him and He loves them even more than I can.
  1. Communication is sometimes easier when we agree on a time to talk. All our lives are busy, our time zones are different and so are our energy levels. So, sometimes we need to make a date to carve out time for each other. We need to talk on a regular basis.
  1. Nothing says love like retro! I love getting cards and letters and they do too. I sometimes send little gifts I call “something for nothings”.

The love and prayers of a mother are an invisible thread tying us together horizontally on earth and vertically up in heaven. What an honor it is to serve my God and be a mother to my amazing children and watch them love and nurture my sweet grandchildren.

Deep down inside we know that we were them; they are us. We are all a part of each other and held together with a sacrificial, tender love that started way back in time when God gave His Son to die for us.

It is with great joy I can say that all of our children know and love the Lord but I cannot rest on the laurels of things I may have done right or how well our children turned out. Just the same, I can’t beat myself up for the things I did wrong. They belong to God and He has done this work in their lives. Praise God!

Debra McCullough is a lazy author who is many times more interested in reading and studying and jotting down ideas than actually writing. She keeps busy with part time and volunteer work, exercise, gardening, and home decorating projects.  She loves to travel to see her family!
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