Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notes On Being "Homesick" as an Expat and Mother...

Although this is a blog focused on travel and our "adventures", even the most traveled among us have experienced homesickness at some point, which is why I consider it to be a valid topic for this forum.

When searching for a quote on homesickness, I came across one that I liked...

"I'd rather be homesick than home."

It was written by the Dutch hematologist and poet Leo Vroman.
(Yes, poetry and science... proving that even the most analytical of us need a creative outlet.)

Feeling pretty homesick myself lately, one of the first things that came to my mind was salmon (which, ironically, was what we had for dinner last night) -- who return "home" to fresh water to reproduce. They, of course, never see their offspring, but obviously they consider the great big ocean to be an insufficient place to have babies. That said, I guess we've chosen more of a whale's path for our little ones.

It's not "home" that I miss. It's the conveniences of home. And the familiarity. And it's...

...Knowing that there are dependable places to drop off your children... even without having a regularly scheduled time.
...24-hour shopping
...Starbucks and Barnes & Noble
...And of course, my leather-seated Ford Explorer with a 6-Disk changer.

I know Europeans consider all of those things to be uneccesary, and Americans to be somewhat spoiled, but once you've had them, life without them can be challenging. And yet, the moment you move back, all of those things begin to lose their charm (thanks to traffic, weather, and other factors) which is when Leo's quote begins to ring true.

Sure, I miss my family too, but Americans work so ridiculously much (in my humble opinion), you generally only see them for a couple hours on the weekend or the evening. They don't have a couple months of vacation, like much of the world. So family is more of the icing on the cake.

But being independent in the U.S. is really much easier. You're not as reliant on friends and family, because everything you need is available for hire... if that makes any sense (and this perhaps factors more into the size of the city, as opposed to the country). To some, this sort of lifestyle may sound cold or unpleasant, but when you move around as much as we do, establishing a new support network time-and-time again becomes a real challenge.

But hey, what am I complaining about? We live on a farm and are getting a taste of the rural life, which is what I've "always wanted". The grass is always greener...

On that note, I have a hungry baby to feed, while en route to pick up my toddler from his 6-hour-per-week "school" (in the village). But I must quickly add, I am now in total wonder of my mother, and any other parent of two or more children. In a matter of weeks, I've gained a whole different persepctive on life as a parent... and over the next couple months, it'll get even more interesting, as we learn 1st-hand what it's like to travel trans-Atlantic with two little ones. But that's a challenge that we're certainly up for.


Viera said...

Hi Liz,
I very much love the way how you put your words together into interesting stories.
Not sure if I was breathing while reading about childbirth.
...and bike ride???!!!
I am sure transatlantic flight will be walk in a rose garden.
Love Viera

Dixie said...

I like your take on this - on being homesick. I've lived in Germany for almost 11 years and I don't think I'll ever be completely free from the occasional bout of homesickness.

And I like that quote. I think of another quote that I like when I'm feeling homesick or even out of place: "Bloom where you're planted.".