I have been thinking a lot about the idea of homesickness.  It is an emotion I’m familiar with, but when I ponder the feeling more deeply, I find myself confused: what is home for me?  I’ve written at length about my peripatetic childhood and the slipperiness that engenders in my own sense of home.  Now, I’m crystal clear: home is the small house Matt and I moved into 15 years ago July, to which we brought home both of our babies, in whose walls Grace and Whit have grown up.

Of course home isn’t a place, though, at all.  It’s people. It’s family, the one I was born into and the one I have made.

The truth is I didn’t feel homesick much as a child.  At least I don’t remember that.  I know that I came home at midnight from my very first sleepover, in Paris, and I was homesick then.  I know I did not like my first camp, which I went to when I was 9, and was homesick.  But for the years after that, when I went to camp on Cape Cod (where Grace and Whit go now) and then to boarding school, I don’t recall feeling homesick. I don’t say that as a criticism, by the way – I know that I was a securely attached child who was confident of her relationship with her parents and my lack of homesickness did not reflect something nefarious.  Whit, for example, isn’t homesick.  And I know he loves us and vice versa.

This is part of why I’ve been thinking about the idea of homesickness, lately.  I think it’s more complicated than simply missing home.  Grace was homesick at camp this summer, which surprised all of us a little since she’s been to camp for many years, and confidently so. I suspect what she’s homesick for is me, but more than anything, I think she’s preemptively homesick for right now.  In some deep-seated way Grace is aware that the days when I can solve problems for her and when I’ll be an uncomplicated source of security are numbered.  It’s not that we won’t always have a close bond; I hope we do and trust we will.  It’s just that she’s a young woman and her relationship with me is necessarily changing.  I know it will and already is.  I studied this and now I’m living it.

This is as it should be.

But it’s not easy. It’s scary to know what’s coming, to look independence and young adulthood in the eye and it’s also sad to glance back at all that will never come again. It won’t surprise any of you who know how frequently I glance back to know that Grace does the same.  Often.

So I understand this latest surge of homesickness in Grace this way: a prescient awareness of what is coming, a preemptive sorrow, a clinging to what is because what is on the horizon is scary and exciting in equal measure.  Maybe she’s just wired this way, aware of the light and the dark, attuned to the shadows that hover around a lot of life’s experiences, sensitive to loss even before it arrives.  If so, she’s just like her mother.

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  1. Posted September 28, 2016 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Oh I feel this. My girls are about to turn 11 and 9 and the times they are a-changing. Also, one of mine is ALWAYS homesick and the other has never been, and I sense that they are both secure yet in different ways. Is G thinking about boarding school? It is all so exciting and yet scary, just like most change I suppose. XOX

    admin Reply:

    Yes, she is. Exciting and scary indeed. Both. xox

  2. Posted September 28, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    You know I’m right there with you on this one! And my 14 year old too.

    admin Reply:


  3. Nadine
    Posted September 28, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    A post that hits it home for me. I was a very, very homesick child, which makes it even more surprising that I now live so far away from home. Your musings make me wonder what the underlying foundation was and is for me, and to me that’s the best kind of post 🙂
    Your girl sounds thoughtful, sensitive and brave. Being fourteen is not easy.

    admin Reply:

    No. This is just not an easy age, is it? xoxo

  4. Posted September 28, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I don’t remember being particularly homesick as a child, but I so understand this awareness of change (sometimes with preemptive sorrow). Beautiful post, Lindsey. xo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you, dear friend. xox

  5. Kathie
    Posted September 28, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    You are so right! Makes so much sense. And I think it’s a good thing that she is just like you. xo

  6. Gale
    Posted September 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    “A clinging to what is because what is on the horizon is scary and exciting in equal measure.”

    My mother always gets homesick BEFORE she leaves for a trip and I’ve never understood it until reading the sentence above. As for me, I think I’m most inclined to get homesick for a certain time in my life. I miss the first years of my marriage, before we had kids, and when life was very simple. I miss my boys being babies. And so on. And when I’ve felt homesick for a place, I think it has usually been more about missing the time in my life when I was in that place.

  7. Posted September 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I always love when you write about having a peripatetic childhood because knowing that makes me feel better about having moved south and back for only a year. Your take on Grace’s homesickness sounds spot-on to me. My grandmother’s favorite story to tell about me was when she moved to China when I was 11, I asked her, “Will we still make pies when you come home?” I was always acutely aware of how quickly childhood passed, and I see the same quality in my 8yo. What others might call morose, I see as “plugged in.” I think it’s a positive. xoxo

  8. Diane
    Posted September 28, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    to me, you are so right on about this.
    my children are grown, but you have transported me back.
    it’s so very bittersweet. but life is.
    thank you for putting it into words. xo

    admin Reply:

    “it’s so very bittersweet. but life is.” what perfection those two sentences are. Indeed. xo