A couple of weeks ago, I posted a simple status update on Facebook that said “homesick” and followed it up with a quote I found when Googling ‘homesick’…
“despite the way it’s coined, homesickness isn’t necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said. Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health. When these qualities aren’t present in a new environment, we begin to long for them — and hence home.”
My post was met with an outpouring of awesomeness from loving friends and family… offering expressions of love, support, validation and encouragement. Here’s one response that was so fantastic…“You are building ‘place’ and security and love in 2 places! Keep reaching out as you bridge your worlds and homes” (thanks Mary T!). Another friend shared this quote that so deeply resonated…
“You will never be completely at home again. Because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” (muchisimas gracias Alene!)
Although at the moment, I’m not feeling particularly homesick, I know there will be cycles of it and have been wanting to write about it here in our blog as I know it is part of the larger experience we are having.
Picking up a family of 5, including 3 children (teen and pre-teen no less) and moving to another country is not exactly for the faint of heart. I’ve been reading about other families who’ve chosen this path and have found other’s stories to be wildly inspiring, validating and fascinating. One article I really loved was called The Family Gap Year. This article really resonated with me ….and highlighted many of the reasons we choose this path this year…
“for many parents and their kids, a gap year proved to be the quickest path to the stuff — values, family time, real-life experience — that matters most.”
“Family after family talked about their kids’ ability to rise to — and resolve — the unexpected.”
“Opening kids eyes to privilege”
We have experienced many situations already that highlight each of these points above: getting to the things that matter, facing challenges and the unexpected as a family team, and having the opportunity to look deeply at our privilege.
We don’t have a lot of stuff. We came with 5 people, 5 suitcases, and 5 backpacks. Our home here is furnished with the basics. The kids didn’t / couldn’t bring their toys, so they figure out ways to create them here (for example, Anna hoards our recycling cardboard and makes creations like this for her stuffed animals) 🙂 ~ I just found another secret stash under her bed while cleaning yesterday.
We’ve been able to have more time together as a family.
There have been numerous dilemmas and challenges that we’ve experienced…from things breaking down in our housing or with our van, to navigating teacher relationships and a very different school culture, to creating new relationships and friendships...we’ve all been pushed to lean into the discomfort of…
not being the expert
I’ve watched my children be sad, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I’ve also watched them find solutions, face their fears and STEP UP to new experiences. It’s interesting being a parent in a new country. Even if I wanted to, I cannot be a helicopter parent here. There are too many things I don’t understand or do not know myself. It’s an interesting dynamic. I’ve needed to whittle down parenting to the basics. Listen. Validate. Encourage. Support. Acknowledge when I don’t know. Remind that we are all in this together. We are a team. No one gets left out. All voices and perspectives get to be heard.
Privilege. So important to see it. So important to be reminded of it. My kids cannot help but acknowledge some of the privileges they’ve had so far in their lives and the privileges they continue to have. There are daily reminders here that can not be ignored. We have real conversations on this and I feel grateful for these opportunities.
Feeling grateful in this moment for the WHOLE of this experience.
Anyway…it’s Friday afternoon. Onward into the weekend and into more juicy, messy, delicious, challenging, precious life!