It's been awhile since my last post so a quick update before I go into this topic. I am currently 11 weeks away from finishing my radiology residency! I will be continuing on at my home institution for my breast imaging fellowship. My little C just turned 3 in January and is doing very well in pre-school (and an update to my prior post, she is finally pooping in the toilet!! It turned out she was just very stubborn and decided one day to do it and never looked back.). My husband big C is finishing up his fellowship in spine surgery on the east coast and will be coming back home at the end of July. He got a job on the west coast, which is about 2 hours north of my home institution so we'll be doing another year of "long distance" but I don't consider a 2 hour commute "long distance" after a year of "west coast and east coast, 3 hour time difference, and 2 flights and a layover to see each other long distance."
I am by no means an expert on long distance relationship and this year has been my first year of ever being in a long distance relationship. I was definitely a hot mess for a good part of it but now that we're less than 4 months of it coming to an end, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and wanted to share how we, me and little C, survived a year alone.
1. Communication. This is the biggest part of any relationship especially in a long distance relationship. Big C and I talk every single day usually via text message. It's hard at times especially when he is doing a 9-10 hour case but he always manages to text me in between cases. It's important that we check in on each other and know what we're doing even thought there is an entire country in between us. This is our way of maintaining our adult relationship and marriage because when we do FaceTime in the evenings, we try to make it about little C. Usually from the hours of 6 to 8 PM (west coast time), we have our FaceTime on. We usually aren't talking the entire time but big C is able to see us eat dinner and our usual bedtime routine. This way little C gets to at least see her daddy almost every day. No matter how busy we are, we always check in on each other!
2. Don't forget about the light at the end of the tunnel. I am guilty of forgetting this at times. As a single mom this year (minus most weekends when we go an hour north to my parent's house), my days just revolve around surviving. I am just trying to make it to bedtime but it's important to realize that there is an end goal. There is reason why we are doing this. It's easy to get caught up in the stressful moments but whenever I am feeling stressed, I think of our family living under the same roof once again and being able to provide for little C all the things we talked about and hoped for in the near future and the stress does melt away some. It definitely helps to know that it is only temporary because there is a bigger picture in mind!
3. Making each moment count. I am not brave enough to travel with little C alone to the east coast, mostly because where big C is training, there is no direct flight and it's a whole day ordeal to get to his place and his place = bachelor's pad. I've been out to the east coast a couple times this year when my mom graciously watched little C. We didn't get much sleep but in its sacrifice, we got to treasure these few days of adult time and made memories to last us to the next visit. When big C visits us here, which is about once every 6-8 weeks, we will fill every minute with family time for little C whether it be going to an amusement park or something as simple as going to the playground. We just strive to create memories and experiences for little C as a family of three.
4. Be considerate. Sometimes it's very easy in a long distance relationship to get caught up in your own life that you forget to think about what it's like to be in your partner's shoes. I am very guilty of this as well. I often lash out at big C about how he has no idea what's it's like to be a single parent doing residency. But at the end of the day, I am so grateful I get to snuggle little C in bed and how she gives me 3 kisses, 1 on each cheek and 1 on lips right before bed and she calls me her favorite. I get to pick her up from pre-school every day and I get to come to a home filled with pictures and memories of our family. There are hard days but I am not alone. I remind myself that he might not be here but he has his own battles. He lives alone and away from his family. He's experiencing a rigorous fellowship that often involves 5AM days that sometimes end at midnight. He's on call constantly. All 3 meals are often from the hospital cafeteria. He's in a new environment where he doesn't know anyone. And at the end of the day, he's not just doing this for himself. He's doing it for our family and for that, I am truly grateful to have such a hard working, selfless husband.
5. Make short-term plans. This was more relevant when we first started our long distance relationship. I would make a big deal at each 10 week mark. I still continue to make a big deal for each time he gets to visit. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but we still need something to look forward to get through the day to day. Now, we're days away from April and making plans to attend each other's graduations. I still can't believe we have survived this far!