Hotel rooms and trips bring out Sam’s homesick inner child.
I just got back from a business course, where I had to spend four days in a hotel 10 km away from my family. It nearly killed me to be so near, but so far from them. I swear, if I hadn’t phoned Andreas every 4 hours, and smuggled in my sons’ old teddy bear to sleep with... I may not have made it through.
Because I am that pathetic. I am 35 years old, but if you tell me I need to be away from my family, my bottom lip will quiver like a distressed 6-year-old’s, while I ask ‘How many sleeps?”
It’s all very embarrassing.
I have been this way my whole life. I used to arrive bravely for sleepovers with little school friends, only to phone home panic-stricken at 11 pm, necessitating a quick jammie run home by my ever-stoic Dad.
In fact, the first time Andreas invited me away for the weekend when we were in our late teens, he told me that “we could invite my parents with if I REALLY felt we needed to.” (Luckily, I have got over that particular hurdle, having transferred the entirety of my homesick fixation from my parents to Andreas and the boys. Otherwise that could have got a little creepy.)
Why would Andreas put up with such childishness? Yip, you guessed it.... because he is very similar himself. As a small boy growing up in Germany, with very sociable parents, he would snuggle up miserably to his babysitting Granny, inconsolable and unable to sleep until the very instant he heard his parents’ car arriving safely in the drive, after which he’d be out like a light. (It’s not easy for a six-year-old to stay awake until 1am.)
He also lost 15kgs while doing a 4 month stint of field research in Kenya a few years ago. When he arrived home, I was horrified by his gauntness, and asked him if he’d run out of food or something.
“No,” he said, sheepishly. “But it’s no fun eating without you.”
I think we’re both just having very home-based hearts. Other people find their calm in exercise, in a night out with good friends, in climbing a mountain... Andreas and I are only truly recharging when we are lying in bed next to each other, kids tucked between us, all four absorbed in a book.
It’s nice that we both understand each other. Our sons, on the other hand, appear to be from an entirely different breed.
As soon as I finished my course, I asked Dreas to bring the boys to see my hotel room. I thought it would be nice for them to get an idea of what it’s like when I go on business trips. In the end, all that was really seen is what my boys think of their Homesick Mommy at large.
Joey was fascinated by the fact that I could manage to live by myself at all.
“I am so glad you brought Edward. You know how you can’t sleep unless you’re snuggling something,” he said, making a beeline for the teddy before exploring the cupboards. “Did Daddy unpack your bag and hang up all the clothes in the cupboard so you could find them?”
Sigh. Am I really that bad at hanging up after myself at home?
Benj, on the other hand, strode towards the unmade bed, and settled nonchalantly on one corner.
“So, where’s Bryan?” he asked, nonchalantly, looking under a corner of the duvet, almost as if my favourite colleague was hiding from him.
Dreas and I looked at each other, before we burst out laughing.
“Benj love,” I said. “When Mommy says she’s going away on business with Bryan, it doesn’t mean
Mommy stays in the same room with Bryan for a few days. It means we each get a hotel room and then we meet downstairs for breakfast before we go to a lot of meetings.”
Benj thought about this for a moment.
“Cool.” He said. “When can I start going away to hotels and meetings with Bryan?”
Clearly homesickness isn’t hereditary.Do you enjoy leaving the family behind for a trip? Or do you yearn for them?
Read more by Sam Wilson