Everyone knows the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” I absolutely believe this is true.
Growing up as an “Army brat” and moving at least 18 times in my life, it was often hard to feel like I was really at home anywhere. People ask me where I’m from and I struggle to answer the question. I usually default to saying that most of my family is from Alabama but I moved all over the place growing up, and now we have finally planted roots in Kentucky. But where a person lives is not necessarily where they feel at home.
Home and a sense of belonging, complete with safety, security, and comfort is a very basic need built into all of us. People yearn for a home. Not just a house or a place to live, a home. A place we can go as we are and not be questioned or judged but be fully loved, fully accepted, fully ourselves.
We all need shelter. Anything can provide that. But having a home is another thing. Home simply defined is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. It is an almost animalistic trait of any living thing to instinctively return to its territory after leaving it.
Many times in my life I strived to create a home where there wasn’t one. To have a home when all I had was a structure. Home is where the heart is, but in order for the heart to truly know it is home, it has to be welcomed, known and accepted. The place the heart tries to claim as home must be willing to claim it. Much like a heart transplant, if the body rejects the heart, the heart will die and so will the person.
A home filled with nothing but yourself. It’s heavy, that lightness. It’s crushing, that emptiness.” Margaret Atwood
For much of my life, my heart wasn’t even at home in my own chest. I didn’t accept myself or deem myself worthy, so I struggled to provide an adequate home for my heart. I think this is why I continued trying to place it in the hands and chests of others, hoping they’d accept it, give it a home and call it worthy. That didn’t work and my heart remained homeless, despite my relentless efforts to shelter it. Although I was with people who were meant to love me and accept me as I did them, and who I yearned to create a home with, in those relationships I always felt homesick.
“A man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” Zen Proverb
When my boys were born, my heart found it’s forever home. I not only began to accept myself as a worthy home for them and a safe place for my heart to live, but I also now had two (and soon three) worthy souls who my heart belonged to. My body had been their literal home for the first months of their lives and I knew instantly that my heart would be their home forever. I grew them inside me for 10 months and sustained their lives solely with my body for the first year. My heart beats for my sons, and every day it is clear that in me is where my boys find their home.
A couple days ago when I picked the boys up from the nursery at church, they did the usual celebration of my return as if I’d been gone a week, which always melts my heart, but then Connor asked me to hold him. Its a struggle to hold them while also trying to juggle two more children, bags and a stroller; but there are times where no matter how difficult it is physically, it’s important to figure it out emotionally. So I picked Connor up after celebrating the reunion with all 3 boys and he immediately wrapped his entire three foot body around me, nuzzled his head into the nape of my neck, took a deep breath and with a smile on his face he looked at me and said, “Mommy, I so happy!” This melted me and I said, “I’m so happy too buddy. I love you!” And then he squeezed me tighter and looked me right in the eyes and said, “Mommy, I’m home!”
That is it.
There it is.
The thing that makes motherhood the miraculous, life giving thing that it is. No matter how homeless, neglected and abused your heart has been, in your children, it has a home; and where you are is where home is for your children. You were their home for the first 10 months of their life, and you will be their home forever.
No matter how many times we have moved, as long as my mom and the people who truly love me were there, it was home. Mother Teresa said, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.” Regardless of where I’m living, what my circumstances look like, or whether I ever find a partner in life worthy of sharing my heart with, my boys and I will forever be at home because we have each other. The tides of life will come and we may not always be in the same place physically, but my body will always be a home for my children and nothing in the world is more magnificent than that. Perhaps home is not a place after all, but simply an irrevocable condition. Home truly is where the heart is.
“Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners.” Charles Henry Parkhurst