“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
Every time I open the squeaky screen door to my grandparent’s lake cottage, I feel a little bit like I am stepping back in time. Part of me feels like I’m ten years old again. When I open the pantry closet, I find the typical bonanza of junk food and treats – licorice, salt water taffy, and Cheetos. I quickly put on my swimsuit and dip my toes in the water off the end of the dock. I want to forget about deadlines and bedtimes and sunscreen.
Last week, my kids and I made a mid-week trip up to Wisconsin for a few days. Living near Chicago now, and being the only family member who does not live within a 30 mile radius of my childhood home, gives my visits back to Wisconsin a certain homecoming quality. There are dinners with fancy cupcakes. People change their plans so that we can be together. Bedtimes are thrown out the window. Eager offers are made to spend time with the boys.
And it feels good – so good – to have this homecoming. I miss my Wisconsin home – and my family and friends who still live there – immensely, with a mix of fierce longing and rose-tinted nostalgia. It feels good to be welcomed back home, to be wanted, to feel comfortable in the familiar.
I am blessed and lucky to have a jobs – first and foremost as a stay-at-home parent and second as a freelance writer – that give me the freedom to travel on a whim, to take off in the middle of the week to spend a few days with family at the lake. My husband, on the other hand, is not so lucky. He works unbearably long hours at a stressful job so that the boys and I are able to take these trips back home. He sacrifices for us and I know that. So, while it feels good to be back in familiar territory, to spend time with extended family, to be mothered a little instead of constantly mothering, there is a certain heaviness to the visits as well.
And as good as the homecoming in Wisconsin feels, he is where home is.
Where do you call home? What makes it home?