... Or so I thought.
In anticipation of my arrival, I missed my family more than ever. I envisioned seeing them pull up to the airport with smiles and hugs, which is exactly what I got. Only, something was different.
The feeling of reconnecting was not sustained. I felt like it was right back to the honey-do list and kids screaming and fighting. The blues set in.
Why did this happen?
I looked around and realized that while I was gone, everything continued as usual. The kids enjoyed splash pads and playgrounds. Karen made preparations for moving to Massachusetts and visited with her family. We were all happy to be reunited, but our emotional journey over the last 10 days was very different.
I was on the same page, yet it was a different book. This is only significant now – as opposed to the many times I've traveled in the past – because, unlike the past, I am more so living in the same book as Karen and the kids than ever before.
It's one thing to be physically present, and it's a whole new level of being-there when you are emotionally immersed in each moment as your family grows and you fall more deeply in love with your wife. That's being in the same book.
For some, this is not hard. Their minds turn on and off as the work days begin and end. That's not me. It never stops, and the same goes for my family while I'm at work. I think about them, talk about them, and dream about what comes next.
This sounds all well, but it comes with struggle. I've worked hard to pay attention to the feedback from those closest to me, especially Karen. I've reflected, tested, and even prayed to become more mentally present with my family.
Here's what I've learned.
- I travel sometimes and therefore need to be involved with what is happening at home while I'm away.
- Connected devices are awesome and make our lives easier. This is not without consequence, however. Psychologists are seeing similar symptoms that resemble those of sibling rivalry. It can stress a relationship.
- Most importantly, to strengthen a connection with your family (when your work takes you away) takes practice. Start with one event at a time and reflect on it.
- Inquire before you comment. I still haven't mastered this one (ask Karen), but I keep trying and it's getting better.