Note: This essay is by Denise Barry.
I want to go home!
I remember lying in my bed at night, listening to my sister snoring in the bed next to mine, and thinking this.
I would remind myself that I was home.
I’d then feel worse, in a sad, lonely kind of way.
If I can’t go home, because I am home, then how do I stop this longing – this wanting to get away?
Or get out.
Back then, I didn’t know I had options. The very first boyfriend I had, I thought I was supposed to marry. I didn’t even like him! I only went out with him because he was the first person who had ever asked me, and I was 18!
But my mother expected me to marry him. Maybe she wanted me to be safe. If I had someone to take care of me for life, then I would be safe, right? Or she would get to feel safe at least.
I had a full time job at the age of 19. I worked in an office and wore skirts and pantyhose every day. I even had my own cubicle!
It was awful.
I wanted to quit but my father said “you can’t quit a job like that! You make good money and get benefits and paid vacations!”
Admittedly, I loved telling people I worked for the United States Customs Service.
I felt so important, and who would I BE if I didn’t have this to brag about?
I got lucky after I had my daughter. I couldn’t find a babysitter I trusted. For six months I left her with friends and family and it never felt right.
The only thing that ever felt right was the thought that flew into my head after an especially long day of work…
“I can quit and stay home with her.”
I desperately tried to talk myself out of it. What will people say? What will people think? I won’t be making any of my own money! What will become of me? What if, what if, what if?
I took a deep breath. Two. I hyper-ventilated for a while. Then I did it anyway.
It wasn’t easy at first.
I especially dreaded the question I was inevitably asked by strangers, especially working women…
“So, what do YOU do?”
No matter how I phrased it, (and I practiced!) I felt like people heard…
“Nothing. I do nothing. I don’t work and I am a kept woman.”
I felt like they were judging me, and maybe they were, but why shouldn’t they be? I was judging me.
It was written all over my face that I didn’t think I was valuable. It kept me quiet for many years.
I was quiet about being secretly happy.
I pretended I didn’t love being home with my kids.
If I complain enough about how hard it is, maybe people won’t look down on me and think I sit around all day eating bon-bons and going shopping, spending money I didn’t earn.
Eventually, that show got old – and so did wanting to justify why I was doing what I was doing.
I can’t tell you how many times I quoted statistics on how good it is for kids to have a parent home.
I finally realized that I was happy, just plain happy to be and to do what I was doing, and that had nothing to do with anyone else.
Today, if you ask me, like my kids love to do…
“Why did you buy a guitar then stop taking lessons two months later?”
I’ll say, because I did.
”Why did you leave laundry sitting in the washer for a week?”
I was being lazy.
”Why are you writing articles when you don’t even know if people are reading them?”
It’s super fun and I love doing it.
Home is not a place. It’s a state of mind.
You’re home when you feel safe and that can be any where.
You know the old cliche’ “home is where the heart is?”
Where is your heart?
Either it’s home, or it’s an orphan because we are all in charge of our own.
There’s no room in anyone’s inn for yours….
One heart, one home.