Sunday, February 5, 2012


You can't go home again. Can you? 

Honestly, I never thought I could. The house where I grew up is no longer where my parents dwell. Many people who surrounded me as a young person are far from the area. Even the familiar sights and sounds are colored by a different perspective – perhaps that perspective comes from maturity, new priorities, and/or additional experiences gained. In any case, perspective can be advantageous. Or not so much.

When I return to my hometown to visit my folks, I'm struck by how different I feel. I'm no longer the teenager that requires a curfew. I'm no longer a bored tween who impatiently waits for my parents to finish up their dreadfully dull small talk with a neighbor. I'm sort-of a member of the adult community.

And yet, I'm sort-of not.

Last time I went “home,” I argued with my partner; I stressed about my kids' behavior; I worried about finding time to get away. When I reached a breaking point, I called my mother from the car outside my in-laws', sobbing about a passive-aggressive disagreement that Scott and I'd had. I was practically shaking with anger about unmet expectations. Mom pointed out that, when we're back “home,” with our families-of-origin and parental units, we can find ourselves defaulting to youthful communication habits and manipulation tricks we mastered while growing up. Translation? We regress to the people that our families knew best, but not necessarily the people that we consider ourselves today.

I argued and argued and argued that “we are fabulous communicators; we fight much more constructively than this situation shows.” She affirmed that, and then – after 20 minutes of my carrying on - firmly reminded me that this is what's difficult about family situations. This is why some folks don't particularly look forward to the holidays, and time with loved ones. These are the struggles that help define why we can't “go home,” to share the same place with the same people and expect to feel the same way. We're all developing, adapting, changing, evolving. Certainly, my family-of-origin has witnessed some of this – but they're not part of my everyday life any more. Trying to be the daughter who needed a curfew is impossible. Trying to be the mother I am in a setting where I'm both parent and child is unusual. It makes going home uncomfortable at times, and sometimes means we'll encounter conflict and heartache.

 At the same time, finding new comfort in the adult roles one plays and the developing relationships with one's family can be exhilarating beyond measure - Observing my kids' loving interactions with their aunts and uncles. Reconnecting over a game of cards. Engaging in conversation about our shared experiences and challenges as “grown-ups.” Wrestling with nuances and complicated issues. These are the things that remind us that home is not the place we left to become adults. An accepting home (the home I strive to create) allows space for continued growth. Home is the people we love, their acceptance of our sometimes-painful development, and the memories we're making. Home is where our hearts are. Home is where we struggle, laugh, annoy, tease, work and play together. In my mind, acceptance defines home more than any physical or metaphorical structure ever will, and in that way, I find comfort in the idea that, despite the distance and the change, it really is possible to go home.

acceptance - the act of taking or receiving something offered; favorable reception; approval; favor.



  1. Sara, I absolutely love your take on this topic, placing 'home' in a position of emotional growth, rather than a physical location. And MAN what great insight from your mom ... there is that reversion emotionally and in communication, isn't there?

  2. Thanks for this, Sara. I find comfort in your idea of home as well.