It’s been an unusually big travel year for me, thanks to Skype (and my dear husband), I felt close and connected while away. Because of Skype, I didn’t miss the progress of a loose tooth or the triumph of a 100% test score, I was a part of the details of daily life.
First, credit goes hands down to my husband. He supports my whims, my passions, my wanderlust. When my Mom and I went to Vietnam and Cambodia this winter, he managed the household while working full time. I’ve just returned from DONA International’s conference (all things babies, birthing and mamas) in Mexico and he took the week off (sort of) to be with the kids. Without his complete partnership, my trips and travels would be impossible.
Skype gets second credit for allowing me to travel. Vietnam is exactly 12 hours difference from Eastern Standard Time and Skype worked perfectly for me to say good morning to the kids while I got ready for the evening and I could join them at dinner while I got dressed for my day. They’d set me on the end of the table in my regular seat and we could chat and laugh like a typical family dinner.
Before leaving for southeast Asia, I was apprehensive about leaving the kids for 21 days. My oldest encouraged me, “Mom, it’s the trip of a lifetime! You have to go!” but my son never mentioned my upcoming adventure without proclaiming that I was leaving on his birthday. The trip was planned for my parents to take, so I had no control over the dates but we made it a special birthday nonetheless. I got to snuggle with him the morning of his birthday and recount his whole birth story, a ritual we do each year, before we left for the airport.
I was most concerned about my eight year old and being apart for that long. I left them a box full of notes, one for each day, I gave them an itinerary and map so they could follow along on our travels, but in the end, none of that was very important. Seeing each other, talking, and sharing life’s daily details is what made it easier, for all of us.
Sure, sometimes Skype was fuzzy, or froze, but it couldn’t have been better to share our time apart. I brought the kids to breakfast with me and showed them the traditional Vietnamese breakfast, pho, as it was being prepared. They got to watch the wild motorbike traffic from our hotel in Hue overlooking the Perfume River and a busy intersection.
Michael gasped and laughed seeing the cyclos and motorbikes barely missing each other. He observed a woman drop a bag of greens in the middle of the road and go on without noticing, another woman stopped, snatched up the greens and continued on her way among the morning rush.
My husband and kids got to meet our energetic and caring guide, Quang, as well as other travelers in our group. I showed them China Beach and they got to visit with their Ama, too. Skype allowed my family at home to have a small taste of, and glimpse into our trip, something I couldn’t have shared through postcards, letters, photos or phone calls.
I felt near to them through Skype, I got to see them, “fake hug” them, I got kisses with very close-up lips, I heard about tennis practice, the instructor’s praise at snowboarding (they were in snow while we were in scorching heat!), and what they were having for dinner. The minutiae of everyday life is what mattered and with the ease of Skype, and the great value (free), we were able to share those nitty-gritty things that make a family feel attached. We didn’t need to use broad brush strokes or gloss over things, we could talk and share and really visit.
On our family vacation to France in April, the kids Skyped their friends at home. From my recent trip to Mexico, I heard about sailing races, crabbing catches and Ali and I discussed the book* we’re both reading for our Mother-Daughter book club while I got to share our view of the Cancun beach and introduce my family to my roommate.
I love the magic and gift of Skype. The regular, daily contact was invaluable to staying connected when I’ve been away from my family.
How does Skype help keep you connected to your family near and far?
*We’re reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper – a wonderful book with beautiful descriptions from the point of view of a girl with cerebral palsy. A great read to develop empathy and an understanding of children (and adults) struggling with disabilities.