… when you have a baby?
I suffer from homesickness when I’m away. I know some people may find that strange at the age of 32, but I do, and I can’t help it. I know when it’s coming, like a grey cloud, and I know that it could be a fleeting feeling or it could hang around for a couple of hours, max. I know that once it passes I’ll be fine again and will still be delighted to be away. But whilst it’s here, I don’t want to be anywhere but home.
I remember the first time I tried to really properly explain it to Simon. We had just checked into a motel room in Monterey, California. We’d been away for over a week at that point, doing an amazing road trip down the west coast of America, seeing some incredible, breathtaking scenery, eating great food, meeting lovely people – having a brilliant adventure. But suddenly I didn’t want to be anywhere but home. I wanted a cup of tea and my bed and my things and familiar smells. And my famalam and my friends. I wanted Simon too, of course, but just to be back home with me. It didn’t mean that I didn’t want to be with him or that I wasn’t having the most terrific holiday. I just, in that moment, wanted to be home.
I think it’s hard to understand if you don’t get it because being on holiday is supposed to be fun and relaxing and adventurous. An escape from normal life – knowing that your normal life is still there, waiting for you back home but that you are getting a little break from it. I still get those feels. I just get the homesick feels too. It happens most holidays for me at some point. I know it will pass but when I’m in it, it can be a little claustrophobic. I think our honeymoon was the only one where it didn’t appear, as I distinctly remember thinking – wow! I haven’t missed home on this trip!
So we’ve just come back from our first family holiday as a three. And I have to say – I got those feels. The homesick ones. We’d been having a marvellous time – swimming in the sea, eating cinnamon buns, drinking coffee, laughing, reminiscing, catching up, and having proper chats that weren’t centred around whether the bottles and pump had been sterilised and how many poos Aifric had done that day (obvs we still spoke about the poos because, c’mon lads, we’re only human… but we spoke about other stuff too).
I sent Simon off to the spa and said I’d get Aifric down for her nap. We were in a new place, she was a little out of sorts and on this occasion she needed rocking to sleep. And that’s when I felt it arrive, my homesickness. And with it, a thought. As I’m cradling my 8 month old daughter: I don’t know if there is space for homesickness and a baby.
I am the adult now. The responsible one. The grown up. And I am home to Aifric. Wherever we are, we represent home and comfort and love and stability for this little thing. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a new place and the smells are unfamiliar and the noises are unfamiliar and everything is out of sorts, because we’re there. And we represent home to her. And that’s all that matters.
So maybe there isn’t space for homesickness anymore. Certainly not my homesickness. Can I allow myself to yearn for home and my creature comforts when someone else needs that reassurance? Is there space for two of us to be crying for home? Plus I just don’t think Simon could deal. It’d be like when I stubbed my little toe and broke it at the exact same time that Aifric started crying for her nap and the Ocado man rang the bell with an enormous shop. Simon had to make a choice as to who to attend to first.
I think I will probably still feel homesick on occasions when we’re away. I think it’s in me that I love the normality, reliability and reassurance that ‘home’ provides – whatever that may be. But now I have someone else to worry about and to comfort. I have to provide that ‘normality, reliability and reassurance’ to someone else. I have to be that. So I can welcome it, accept it and acknowledge it when it arrives – appreciate that it is a real thing and I can allow the feelings to come and to pass. Aifric has given me a little perspective, on what home is and what it should be. Maybe when I get the feels and recognise they’re here, I can then give homesickness a bit of the cold shoulder. And say – hey old friend, nice to see you again but we’re done.
*PHOTO: Us as a famalam of three on our first holiday together.