No one can agree on who Rebecca looks like. M swears she looks like me, but no one else quite sees it. My mom says she looks like my sister-in-law. Ultimately, there’s no strong resemblance to any one person in looks.
But in personality, I think she’s an awful lot like me as a kid.
There’s the funny similarities, like the fact that all she wants to do in the water is float. Or that she can often be found spinning in a circle and singing to herself. She seems to be like me from a parenting perspective, too - pretty easy, big into rules, kind of sensitive to perceived slights or sadness.
We’re at the beginning of our annual Midwestern pilgrimage right now. Hauling our stuff all over Illinois and Wisconsin to visit various family members. This weekend was the yearly family reunion for my dad’s side, and it was tons of fun as always. A pool, lots of young kids, silly games, junk food at every turn. Good times. Unfortunately, M had to stay home since he really didn’t have enough vacation days to join us.
Yesterday, in the middle of the Reunion Insanity, Rebecca woke up from her nap crying hysterically. I asked what was wrong, and she choked out, “I miss my daddy!” Oh, the heartbreaking wails. Eventually she calmed down enough that we could call M and she could talk to him. And that was when I heard the most striking echo of myself as a kid, through buckets of tears and loud sobs and a thick throat:
“I just want to go home.”
Oh, how many times I said that as a child. I was an intense homebody. My mom would drop me off to play at a friend’s house, and the other mother would call an hour later, saying I was ready to be picked up. The first week of first grade was constant tears. My first time away at camp, age 10, was an epic disaster of daily letters, begging to come home. Even my freshman year of college, I racked up enormous phone bills (OK, much of which was to my boyfriend at the time), and almost didn’t go back after Fall and Winter breaks. I transferred at the end of the year, and ended up going to school two miles from home. The fact that I have now lived a full time zone away for more than 10 years is nothing short of a miracle, but I think even that is nearing its end.
So, when I heard Rebecca all but begging her Daddy to let her go home (again today), my heart broke. Not just because we’ll be here for almost two more weeks and I certainly want her to have a good time, but because I remembered so clearly what that felt like. That intense homesickness, that desperate need to be near the things and the people that I missed.
I feel badly that I’ve passed that trait on to my child. It’s hard to feel that sad, and it took away from my ability to enjoy things like Girl Scout camp, and for sure kept me from making a real attempt to take advantage of my first year of college (even though transferring was ultimately the best decision and my second school was a perfect fit).
Thankfully, I know it gets better. I was able to go away to camp a few years later and I liked it. I traveled to Europe and had a great time. I moved to Boston and fell in love and started a family.
And, hey, I’m 31 years old and want to live closer to my mommy. So maybe that’s not all bad.
But in the meantime, I will try to be patient with her sadness and remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach, of just wishing I could be back home. I will try to help her enjoy the times when we’re away, and not just count down the days until we go back. And I’ll make sure she gets to talk to Daddy every single night.