StoryCorps

A Mother Reflects On Parenting From Afar

Christine Dempsey and her daughter Olivia visited the StoryCorps Atlanta booth in December.
Christine Dempsey and her daughter Olivia visited the StoryCorps Atlanta booth in December.
Credit Courtesy of Christine Dempsey

Three years ago, I had a choice to make.

I was offered an exciting professional opportunity in Atlanta. I had been looking for a new job for about six months. Because of the specialized nature of my profession, I knew there was a strong possibility that I would not find a job near my home base. So, here I was, considering a job that was 700 miles away from the loves of my life, my daughters Lucy and Olivia.

I’ve realized, in choosing the job, it didn’t mean that I did not choose my daughters. I will travel back once or twice a month to visit with my girls.  Oddly, the distance has strengthened our relationship, especially with my younger daughter, Olivia. We use Facetime to chat with each other at least three times a week.  Text messages are frequent and fun and she will come to Atlanta to visit with me.

I’ve had to learn how to parent from afar. I may not be able to hold them for comfort when they’re sad, but we have had long, meaningful conversations. We’ve talked through their problems and concerns to come up with solutions. We send silly pictures of ourselves to each other. We share memes and tell each other jokes.

When Olivia visited Atlanta back in December, she took me to the Story Corp Booth at the history Center. She interviewed me to ask about my parenting style, our relationship and some of the hardships we’ve faced together.

Audio feature edited by Stephen Key.

Christine Dempsey is Vice President of Radio at WABE.