Story last updated at 5/6/2009 - 10:46 am
When I talked to my mother on the phone last Sunday, I almost wished her a happy Mother's Day, then realized I was a week early. But does it really matter? Shouldn't every day be Mother's Day?
With my mother thousands of miles away, I often feel a little envious of friends who can get a ride to work with their mothers or meet them for lunch.
But I suppose it's my fault, really. Like more and more people, I've moved far away from my parents. Inexpensive long distance calls and frequent e-mails make it easier to live farther away, but I still miss seeing my family in person.
I know I'm not the only one who is very close emotionally with my family yet separated by huge distances. This seems odd, yet I see the same thing in many of my friends. As long as everyone is healthy and happy, there doesn't seem to always be a large correlation between how close family members are physically and how close they are emotionally.
The feeling that we "belong" in one place and not another can create these huge distances between people who would otherwise prefer to live in the same place as each other. While many people stay in the same area for most of their lives, some of us seem to need to travel long distances over the course of our lives.
In the summer, we're reminded that humans hardly top the animal kingdom in terms of miles traveled. Humpback whales travel 3,000 miles with newly born calves to feed in the our rich waters. In the winter, they seek out warmer, calmer waters to give birth.
No creature can top the Arctic Tern in terms of miles traveled. These agile birds annually log 24,000 miles, migrating between the poles to catch the summer at each latitude.
Many animal migrations have to do with finding food and suitable breeding grounds. What about us? As hunters and gatherers, of course, we moved to find food. Now, we often move for job opportunities or to experience a new place - it's a different type of nourishment, perhaps, but just like whales and birds, we move around in search of something we feel we as individuals need.
Some humans travel to find suitable places to raise young as well - often people talk about moving to a certain place because it's "a good place to raise children."
And when their children are grown, parents sometimes have to travel great distances to see them. My parents are making the long journey from Chicago to Juneau to visit next week. And it goes both ways - I travel to see them too.
It might be worth it to travel far from home to find a place that has what you're looking for. But it's also always worth going the distance to see your family again, too.
And to my mother and all the other mothers reading this: Thanks for going the distance for your children. Happy Mother's Day!
Katie Spielberger is the managing editor of the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.