Robin writes at Farewell, Stranger. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at Blissdom last year, and she is just as kind and supportive in real life as she is online.
Stop over and read this post called Becoming Real, about losing yourself when you become a mother. Isn’t it amazing? Robin writes so beautifully and her struggles as a mom to her two handsome little men. Bartering Sleep struck a nerve with moms everywhere (including myself) and Four is a post that I relate to so very much.
I’m so glad to have you here, Robin!
I can’t remember exactly when my dad stopped teasing me about being homesick while on an exchange to Germany, but it was a while ago now, which leads me to believe that he must think I’ve finally grown up.
I was 15 at the time of the exchange and I was excited. I was excited going to the airport, excited on the plane, and excited rushing through the Frankfurt airport trying to interpret the signs with only a year and a half of German lessons behind me. I must have been nervous too, but I don’t remember that. I just remember the excitement.
My host family met me at the airport and my excitement lasted through the drive to their town, but not much beyond that. Astrid, my exchange partner, had spent three months living with my family in the fall of that year so I knew her, but it was my first time meeting her family, starting with her mom. Who was lovely, but she was not my own mom. (My own mom also doesn’t drive like a German on the Autobahn, but the fact that Astrid’s mother did wasn’t what fazed me.)
It was all just so different.
The culture was different, the food was different, and my head was overflowing with snippets of a different language as I tried desperately to keep up.
On one of my first nights there I was so homesick I couldn’t sleep, so Astrid’s mom played cards with me. Funny how we remember things like that, isn’t it? She was so accepting of my tears, and playing cards was certainly better than crying alone in the dark, but I just wanted my own mom.
When I talked to my mom (and I can only imagine how she must have felt) she both sympathized and gave me a few pieces of very practical advice. I so desperately wanted to come home and she would have let me, but she knew I could work through it.
And I did. I spent four months there going to school and learning German. By the time I left I was fluent (and when I look back now at letters I wrote to my parents I see that my normally good English grammar definitely took a hit as a result). I had the incredible fortune to travel, with my host family and my school, to Italy, Switzerland, Paris, Amsterdam, and England. I went to East Berlin when it was still East Berlin (though the wall had started to come down, partly thanks to a couple of pieces that found their way into my pocket). It was an experience beyond anything I could ever have anticipated.
Even though my dad has stopped teasing me about it, that homesick girl is still somewhere inside me. I catch a glimpse of her sometimes, but now it’s not my mom who provides the advice, it’s me. And I just tell her, “You can do it. And it will be great.”