My mentor and friend Amy recently asked me, “What is it like to parent from afar?” I laughed from sheer confusion, sadness, and probably insanity. It is hard to describe. In that moment my answer was that I just keep showing up whenever I can. One of us goes to Haiti to see them every 3-4 months. It is hard on us in a lot of ways logistically – time, money, etc - but of course emotionally as well. It rips our heart out (and theirs) every time we say goodbye. But my response to this is always, “The hellos are worth the goodbyes.” I want my boys to feel and know, “See, guys, we are here again for you. We are fighting to bring you home. We are here with you.”
But then what do we do in that time in between when we’re not physically there? Especially on a day like today, the 4 year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, when my boys feel the effects of their trauma and grief even more than usual? Amy’s question, one I think about a lot, is an ongoing learning experience. There are lots of parenting books out there, but none that I’ve found so far about “How to parent your 3 sons in Haiti that you’ve been waiting to bring home for 4 years and have no clue how much longer you will wait.” (Sidenote for self– maybe I’ll write that book). I find myself grappling a lot with fear and shame that maybe I’m not parenting “good enough.” I should be there today to hold my sons and tell them it will all be okay! What can I do? And where the hell is the book that tells me what to do?!
And then I found one. Totally forgot I have this really cool book called the Bible - which you can now download as an app on your phone. I woke up this morning thinking about what Wendy, one of my twins, said about the earthquake one time. In his sweet little Creole he told me, “everything was shaking, but the nannies came to hold us.” Just picture that with me. As I thought about that and the ways God sends us comfort in our trouble, I was drawn to Psalm 91. I read it many times this morning, and here is what I heard God saying to me through this passage: “I will come to you when you’re in trouble. I will send my angels. I am your refuge – come, get under my wings.” Those nannies were angels holding my boys and so many others. Those angels hold you and me. When I can’t physically hold and protect my sons today or any other day, I know who is. “Godspeed” is the name of the song we play every time I’m with them in Haiti. It has a line that says “God hears amen wherever we are” and another that says “oh my love will fly to you each night on angels’ wings.” We’ve been singing those lines together for 4 years. And in my human nature sometimes I still forget that God is doing the parenting – whether I can be there physically or not. My boys are held in His arms. And so am I. I rest in this promise. And that’s how I parent from afar.
**My background in the music business won't let me end this post without crediting Radney Foster for writing the lyrics to "Godspeed." Thanks for writing a song that speaks my heart and makes me cry a really ugly cry. Amen.