“You can’t trust the media. They will always tell you bad things,” our 12 year old told me one night.
“No they don’t,” I defended.
“Seriously mum. Would you be interested in a story of dogs playing with butterflies or some war somewhere that is killing millions of people?”
“Dogs playing with butterflies.”
“No you wouldn’t,” he insisted. “Because the bad stuff is what people click on even though there are more good stuff in the world.”
“Just you wait until I tell your dad.”
His father is a journalist. He produces the TV news. He went away more than two months ago to the Middle East promising to return after three months.
Almost as soon as he landed, Iran seized a British tanker only a few hours away from where he was stationed, in what seemed like retaliation for an Iranian oil tanker that was seized by the British Royal Marines a couple of weeks before. Iran denied its move was retaliatory. And my husband went to work producing the news that reported the incident.
At first it was difficult not to have him around. We missed him a lot. I had to be both mother and father to our son. Sometimes I coped. And there were other times I fell into a bit of a heap.
It would have been worse if we couldn’t chat regularly. I have never been more thankful for technology. It’s been helpful to live in a time where we can video call each other three times a day from half a world away. But I still felt his absence when we hung up.
One night my husband asked me to give our son a hug from him. I tried. I went over to our boy, wrapped my arms around him and gave him a big squeeze.
“Does that feel like a dad hug?” I asked.
“Nope. That feels like a mum hug.”
I squeezed harder.
“How about now?”
“Yeah. That’s a dad hug.”
I discovered three things that night. One, I managed to get two hugs from our boy who feels he is getting too grown up for hugs from his mum. Two, I could give adequate dad hugs. Three, it was not the same as the real thing.
The real thing, my husband and his father, will be coming back in about two weeks. And we cannot wait to see him. I wish I could say the time flew by, but it didn’t. I felt its passing and it was slow.
But the separation is almost over. I am now looking forward to bickering with him in person as we sort out our move to London towards the end of the year.