My son really depends on his mom. She does so much for him; much more I’m afraid than I have been able to do during his short life. I wasn’t around last year for almost five months when we were separated by two coasts. I left for Washington, D.C. in February 2004, and my family joined me the following July (and for a week in April). That is a very long period of absence from my son’s life. Since then I’ve worked hard to be as good a father as I can be. It didn’t help my case that my in-laws lived with us until late last year, and they were constant part of his life until very recently. I really appreciated their help, but in the heirarchy of the family I have struggled to play a more prominent role in my son’s life. It also didn’t help that I spent so much time studying Korean and preparing for our move to Seoul. It has been frustrating at times being close to my son, especially when we uprooted him from his life in Seattle and in D.C. The poor kid has moved and traveled more than most kids have to do in their first two years of life. I now work all day while my wife takes care of our son, so I have to work extra hard to be available to him.
I am happy to say that four weeks into our life here in Seoul my son and I bonded in a way we never have in the past. When he first arrived here, he was not sure of his surroundings and clung to his mom for security. However, in the past couple of weeks he has settled into his new life and realizes that this is home. We have reassured him that this is his new, long-term home, and he has accepted this reality. He has also grown closer to me, which makes me very happy. I have been more accessible to him, and he’s responded. My wife left tonight for a meeting, and my son and I spent the evening together playing with his toys, watching videos, ate dinner together, and I took care of his needs. He wasn’t in the least bit upset that mommy was gone–a first for him. When she came home he kept reading a bedtime story with daddy. His mood can change from day to day, but I know that he’s growing up and more amenable to change. When I tell him something like "mommy will be home soon," he now seems to understand. He still has trouble speaking, but we know he understands. (Children in bilingual homes tend to start speaking at a later age until they can sort out the languages being spoken.) As for me, I am happy as can be to spend quality with my son. I’ll take anything I can get and keep trying harder to be a good father.