As I write I am sitting on the airplane, one hour away from JFK. My emotions are mixed.
As a mother, your job is to create a home. I have created two. My kids are giddy with emotion, counting down the minutes until we arrive. My husband was in London wrapping up last minute business and would join us the following week.
“I’m going straight to the store and buying eggnog,” my oldest daughter announced.
“It isn’t Christmas until we have eggnog.”
“I’m going to call and order a buffalo chicken pizza.” my son chimed in.
They each had a laundry list of kids they wanted to see and things they wanted to do. They were mixed on wanting to go out immediately and wanting to stay and enjoy their home. At the airport a group of friends had traveled two hours just to be there for their arrival. Looking ahead I was afraid of what this meant for their reintroduction into their UK life when it was time to go home, London home.
When we left the UK, the kids reset their status on Facebook, which apparently is a big deal. When I looked I could see all their new friends from London read “In Switzerland skiing for holiday” or “In Russia for ten days,” “Peru for Christmas,” or “heading to the Bahamas to spend time on our boat.”
Under my daughter’s name I could see her status “going home…Cheshire Connecticut.”
Initially, I felt bad for the kids that they weren’t going to an exotic destination. They were surrounded by students who came from enormous wealth, traveling in yachts over 300 feet, Princes of other countries who never understood what it meant to wait in a subway line. Daily, girls would come to school with different $1500 purses. The bar had been raised a bit higher. My kids on the other hand were excited that they could buy honey mustard pretzels and reconnect with the familiarity of a place that had shaped their emotional development.
“Mom where are you going tonight, who will you see?” they asked.
“No one.” I replied. “I’m just going to take it all in.”
The truth was that I was afraid to open a door that I had closed 4 months earlier. Integrating was going to be a challenge. I was afraid of opening that door, emotions flooding out and somehow closing it 14 short days later. I missed my Connecticut home. I missed my dog Jake who I was sure was peering down the driveway waiting for my return. I missed my bed, my clothes, and my family.
The screen above read London local time 6:46. New York local time 1:46. Two different places, a world in between. I had about one hour until we arrived. I missed my life in London. Finally we had created a routine that was familiar, walking to the train, meeting friends at pubs, and sharing a life with other American families who were walking the same journey. Now I would be going home to a much more disconnected life where my friends were pulled in different directions with sports, kids and personal responsibilities.
It wasn’t the extravagant vacations and expensive lifestyle that was creating our journey. What I valued was making lifetime connections in one life and the love, support, friendship, my family, all the things money couldn’t buy in the other. This holiday I would embrace both worlds and try to understand that although divided by an ocean, they were one in the same.
We weren’t traveling to an extravagant destination, for Christmas we were going someplace better, Cheshire Connecticut, where we would celebrate our traditions and reconnect with another beautiful part of our lives. Going home to people we loved would be our gift , and for that we were grateful.