When my brother was born two years before me, my mom was happy to become a stay-at-home mom and raise the kids. We were lucky that my dad could support the family even if she didn't work. However, in order for my dad to make enough money, he had to be away from home. A lot. He basically never had a job in the city we live in, and there even used to be times when he would travel to Hong Kong for three weeks and be home for only one. And yet my relationship with my dad couldn't be stronger.
I grew up in a household where my dad was only home on the weekends. During the week, he was off in one city or another, working hard to support us (he's self-employed, so the city he was in changed every couple of years). My mom — and, well, an au pair — was home and took care of my brother and me. And yet I never had the feeling that my dad wasn't there for me.
Maybe it was the frequent phone calls with us that made me feel that way. He would call a couple of evenings a week, just to catch up with us and see how we were doing and what was going on in our lives. From when I was younger, I only remember my dad laughingly calling me out on the fact that I was watching TV while on the phone with him because my responses weren't really all that engaged. So clearly I didn't feel starved for my dad's attention, and as I grew older, I learned to appreciate those phone calls more and more.
Maybe it was because he was amazing at making up for missed time on the weekends. He is an incredibly responsible man, and when he said he was going to be there, he was. No sudden "Sorry, I can't make it tonight . . ."s or any "I know I already wasn't home last week, but something came up this weekend too . . ."s. We could always rely on him when he said he was going to be home, so I never felt like he ever put work over us. And when I did complain, my mom was quick to remind me that the only reason we could live in a beautiful house and have food on the table and go to school was because my dad worked so hard. And that shut me up every time.
Maybe it was because he was always there when it mattered. I barely remember any birthdays, graduations, holidays, etc., when my dad wasn't there. I'm sure he wasn't actually at all of them, but he made it feel like he was. And if he really couldn't make it, he made sure to plan a make-up party, dinner, etc., the next time he was home. And he would call that day and take time to talk to us and explain to us why he couldn't be there. We never held it against him.
Maybe it was because whenever he did come home, he made sure to spend quality time with us. I remember so many amazing vacations with my family when my dad would take a lot of time out of his well-deserved relaxation time to spend with us. He would sit for hours and read Harry Potter to us in Florida or even take us to new places around the world. Family meals and family time were always incredibly important to both my parents, but as I got older, I realized how they were even more precious for my dad, who never got to spend as much time with his kids and wife as I'm sure he would've loved to.
Whatever it was, I never felt like my dad wasn't there or didn't want to spend time with us. He was always an amazing dad, and to this day I am incredibly close to him. I know he will always be there for me when I need him, and I know he will always be cheering for me — even from afar.
My parents still live with their long-distance relationship, in which my dad comes home only on the weekends, but it hasn't hindered their love at all. Never in my life have I seen a couple be more in love, and I know this will definitely influence my decisions in the future when it comes to raising my own kids. I will never see a far-away job as an obstacle to a great relationship with my children, and I don't think anyone else should either. Time spent right will always pay off.