Skype Dad

shoes & tie

He promised us that everything would be okay. I was a child, but I knew that everything would not be okay.
That did not make my father a liar. It made him my father.
– Jonathan Safran Foer –

I was raised in a time when being a man included protecting and providing for one’s family as the primary breadwinner. This drive, not my alarm clock, is the reason I am out of the house before 8 a.m. Due to the changing economic landscape, I can no longer marry one job for life. My friends and I have changed jobs at least thrice, foraging for choice assignments on different continents.

I work 6000km away from where my family resides. Every other fortnight, at the end of a six-hour flight and one-hour cab ride, I turn my key in the lock of our home. Depending on the time of the day, the sound of “Daddy! Daddy’s home!” fills the hallway extinguishing any trace of weariness. Some months I spend more time with them because of national holidays or meetings, which are scheduled near the city where they live.

One evening, exasperated that my eight-year old wasn’t concentrating on his homework, I let out, “I’ll soon knock some sense into your head!” I didn’t mean it of course. He must have thought I did, because he replied, “No, you can’t,” and laughed while throwing his pencil in the air.

He was right. I could not have. We were on Skype.

Skype gives me the illusion that I am there for breakfast on weekends and dinner and bedtime on some weeknights. I am sometimes forgotten on the kitchen table, left staring at the white ceiling, when TV or something else captures my children’s imagination. Their vocabulary includes poor connection and weak signal and we have learnt to decipher the ‘omens’ of the Wi-Fi signal bars on our devices like fortune-tellers predicting the future.

This present-absence weighs on my heart. Am I a good dad? Am I missing my children’s growing years? Will they grow up resenting me? Have I exhausted the options for securing a job closer home? Beyond financial security for my family, what about my self-actualization and professional growth?

There are stretches of time when my colleagues, men and women who live with their families in the city where I work, hunch over spreadsheets and reports, late into the night. As I leave them behind and head to my small apartment, I contemplate the difference between 11km and 6000km. Is it the weekends?

Absence can make the heart fonder or ponder. If I am fully present when I am with my children, the memories we create as I drop them off at school or play with them in the park, might put paid to questions my absence creates. Nevertheless, their mum’s constant sacrificial presence, for which I am tirelessly thankful, reinforces the answers they seek.

One night after I read my daughter a bedtime story and kiss her goodnight, my lips leave a tiny film of moisture on my iPad screen. The sensation is cool, but my heart remains warm for a long time afterwards.

 

Skype Dad travels round the globe on business assignments, but is home at every opportunity. He shared his story with me in reaction to the post, A Man Just Like You and Me.

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Photo Credit:  Unsplash/ https://pixabay.com/en/leather-shoes-boots-tie-laces-691609/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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53 thoughts on “Skype Dad

  1. Really moved by this post and the questions that Skype Dad is asking. Makes me see the benefits of this technology- in the past it would be short long distance phone calls and handwritten letters (not that either were so bad). Makes me appreciate how technology, for all its flaws, has made the world smaller.

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    1. Being a father means adding one more ‘role’ to your other ‘roles’. He’s asking if he’s achieving the right balance; if he’s making necessary sacrifices. Aren’t we all whether we are parents or not?

      Yes, Skype can make us feel as though we’re there- technology put to good use.

      Like

  2. Fascinating perspective. I love the tension in which we live, trying to decipher between being there or ‘being there.’ The reality is though, that the true and long term impact (on his kids) of the way his family life is structured isn’t measured by how eloquently he writes about the experiences, but by how eloquently his kids write about their childhood when they become parents themselves. Our world is changing so much more rapidly now than ever before because of the introduction of and reliance upon technology, and so it’s early days yet in being able to measure the direct impact of all these changes on our social interaction, especially with long distance parenting. Just my dos centavos! Hope you’re well 🙂

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    1. Indeed we can only hope that his children will grow up and assess his parenting then give him good grades. I like the quote by Foer at the beginning of the post. To my mind, it speaks about coming to terms with dad’s humanity. Dads are most ordinary men…

      Growing up, my dad was away for months at a time because of work. For many years, he was a loving stranger. Perhaps Skype (technology) might have made a difference? Who knows? Maybe it isn’t how well or not we start, but how we continue to the finish line.

      I’m good! Thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂

      Like

  3. What an awesome post! For what it’s worth, your son knows you love him, even if you can’t be physically present with him. At least you’re in his life!

    Love the new look, Timi!

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    1. This sentence in your comment held my attention:
      “At least you’re in his life!”

      My heart goes out to kids whose fathers aren’t in their life and all the father’s who can’t ‘be’ in their kids’ lives for one reason or another.

      @new look, thanks Marie!

      Like

  4. Timi! I love your new look! Now that you and your blog are one to me. Lol Both looking very elegant I must say.

    Now to Skype Dad,

    Wow wow wow so very well communicated is your love for your kids. Isn’t it awesome though what we can accomplish with technology these days? So cool the part where they leave you staring at a white wall because something else caught their attention. Hahaha you know they would totally do the same if you were in the room with them right?

    You are an awesome dad dude!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. touching story here…growing up, father was always away but I knew her loved me anywhere he went…today, I look upon him, appreciative of all his sacrifices and mentorship.
    Skype Dad can rest assured, his children will grow up loving him. Sometimes, all it takes is genuine efforts.

    PS: Loving the new look and feel of the blog!

    – Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Charles, thanks for sharing. It’s reassuring to know that distance didn’t prevent your dad and you from forming close bonds.

      @Loving the new look and feel of the blog, thanks 🙂

      Like

  6. I really could feel this dad’s heartbeat in this piece, Timi. It reminded me of a comparison I hear often between the quality and quantity of time parents spend with their children. This father may be Skype Dad but the quality of the time spent with his kids through technology may just be some the most memorable times spent with him that his children will remember. This tugged at my heartstrings. Thanks for sharing and all the best to him and his family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are so many valid distractions that even parents who work 11km away have to be intentional about quality time.

      Funny, I’d never really given thought to the fact that men also agonize over their parenting. I was moved to share the story because I thought it might resonate with others. Thank you for confirming that it did.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A beautiful honest sharing of every parent’s struggle to “be there” for their children whatever the circumstances. And while Skype may not be the same as a hug, my guess is that the time spent together that way is a gift that will be long remembered and treasured. Once again I am reminded of why I am so happy to have lived long enough to experience the connections on so many levels that our brand new internet world offers us. Kudos to this Dad as both a father and an excellent writer. Thanks for sharing this with all of us very different people, many of us in far away places. What a lovely gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being there is indeed every parent’s struggle. Kids “invade” your life and demand sacrifices from you XD Perhaps that’s why many connect with the story- parents, non-parents, and parents-to be.

      @a gift that will be long remembered and treasured, I think so too.

      Thanks Eileen for reading and your encouraging words.

      Like

  8. Beautiful, evocative piece. It reached to deep parts of me. And the closing paragraph is epic. Dads face a lot. The difficult choices they have to make sometimes cast them in bad light. But whatever happens, even when love doesn’t find soil to grow, we are duty-bound to respect our dads in remembrance of their sacrifice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed becoming a dad means being responsible for another life- the pressures, sacrifices, rewards, and joys. Sometimes having our own kids helps us appreciate our dads’ humanity. But I hope people don’t have to wait that long to get the understanding of just honouring dad as father.

      I’m happy that this piece reached to deep parts of you. It makes the effort I put into publishing Skype Dad worthwhile. 🙂

      Like

  9. Sounds like a good dad to me, like he really cares. And I agree, modern communication makes a significant difference. I, too, like your new heading Timi. You are looking great. BTW… I will be disappearing off the Net for a couple of months, starting with next week when five grandsons descend on Peggy and I. See you in September. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @good dad, yes, I think he is weighing his options and making choices that help bridge the gap.

      I like the sound of 5 grandsons descending! It seems Peggy and you are in for a great time. 🙂

      I hope you’ll wrap up your series on your escape from Alaska before you disappear? I have been enjoying reading.

      @new heading, thank you! 🙂

      Like

  10. Thanks for this piece Timi. I just had to share on a Men Only platform I am on. I am certain those who read this will readily go after the previous one.

    I hope to be a father some day and I wonder what kind I will be. My vision is to be my daughter’s first boyfriend and my son’s best friend. Fatherhood is such a big deal; a huge responsibility.

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    1. It is a big deal and a huge responsibility, one we should ponder and plan for. Since you are already thinking about what kind of father you’d like to be, I trust that you’ll be all that you set out to be, God willing.

      Thanks for sharing Ife, I appreciate it. One reason I do this is to inspire thought and conversation beyond this space. You are helping me reach my goal. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for sharing this enjoyable and emotive read Timi. Technology may ease the yearning and bridge the geographic gap from loved ones. I concur, absence can make the heart fonder or ponder.

    Your new look and feel is lovely.

    De.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. @Timi, I love the refreshing new blog theme, it feels like I walked into a freshly painted house 😀

    @Skype Dad, this was well written. We should be thankful for the privileges that modern technology allows us nowadays 🙂 I appreciate both your honesty and the effort you make to be a good father.

    You are present in your children’s lives whether virtually or physically, because you feature in their daily existence actively.

    The real tragedy is the fathers who are seemingly physically present but only passively so. They are the true absentees.

    Like

    1. Thanks Nedoux. I think that the fact he’s questioning and crosschecking himself speaks volumes- he wants to get it right.

      “The real tragedy is the fathers who are seemingly physically present but only passively so. They are the true absentees.”

      True. The 11km versus 6000km line, hit home for me in many ways.

      @refreshing new blog theme, thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This was a beautiful read and so human. There’s little else to say. The sacrifice, uncertainty, fear, love, hope… the feelings come across nicely.

    P.S loving the new look of your blog Timi. I have been trying out themes on my test blog for weeks and still haven’t found anything suitable lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Uju. I once heard a speaker say that nobody’s got it altogether. I hope we can all take something away from this story.

      @loving the new look of your blog, thank you Uju. I hope you find a theme that works for you- there are so many! 🙂

      Like

  14. This is difficult. My father had to stay for a wk. even though he worked only 40 km. away because we didn’t have a car (too poor) and there wasn’t any buses running.

    So this went on for 2 years before my parents bought a car. Note: Already there were 6 children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be difficult to find the balance between making a living and making a family. I suppose your dad did the best he could and your mother also did the best she could. I’m glad that the situation eventually improved. Thanks for sharing Jean.

      Like

  15. Loved reading this, could really feel the heart of it. Heart rending choices; to be or not to be? Its a never ending balance I think. I think if we are intelligently and intentionally committed to our family’s wellbeing, we will find a good way to achieve the best balance, without regret.

    Well done friend for efforts and considerations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Femi, thank you for sharing about your relationship with your dad and kids in the post, A Man Like You and Me. It sparked introspection and conversation and helped Skype Dad find his voice. 🙂

      I agree, it takes commitment. Parenting involves sacrifices.

      Like

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