As June approaches, and the time for our annual visit to the US, I find myself paying more attention to my use of the word “home.” Like many expats, we use the word in our household to describe both where we live and where we grew up, where we came from.
Some mornings, while E brushes his teeth, we talk about summer vacation. “Soon it will be time to go home and visit your grandmothers,” I say. Not wanting to confuse him, I pause. “I mean, this summer we’ll visit Ohio and see the family.”
It’s not that I don’t want E to not consider Ohio his home. I’m just a new parent unsure of how to present such a topic. Someday, when he’s a little older, we’ll talk more about “home” and what it means to us, as a family living away from our own culture.
For now, I’m still unsure how I feel about the idea of home myself, how to define it, how to embrace it. Before, it was easy to make references to home without giving it much thought. But now that I’m responsible for little ones, language and context seem to matter more.
Not too long ago, E had a paper map of the U.S. hanging on the wall above his bed. At night, we’d read a book or two and then, before I turned off the light, we’d study the map. “Here’s Ohio,” I’d say. “Where your grandmothers live.” E would practice saying “Ohio” several times and giggle.
Recently, the map got ripped during playtime and ended up in the trash, so I’ve got to buy another one. In the meantime, R and I continue to talk to E about summer vacation and about Ohio. Someday he’ll learn that it’s not just where his grandmothers and cousins live, but where his mom and dad grew up, where they went to school, where they met. Someday hopefully he’ll learn to make sense of it, to make sense of the idea of home and all that it means. And, perhaps, I will, too.
What about you? Share some of your thoughts about “home.”