My kids and I are together all the time. Really, I don’t leave them very often. I get an occasional night out with my friends at Starbucks but I almost always leave the house for our "mom's night out" after putting the kids to bed. Tim and I get dates once in a while but “once in a while” means four months sometimes go by between our dates. So, I am with my 5 beautiful children ALL the time. They go to Wal-Mart with me, they go grocery shopping with me, they sometimes go to the bathroom with me (in all honesty, only the baby is ever permitted into the bathroom with me, and then only if she really insists). But, you get the point. The only consistent break I get is on my nightly walk, and it is not at all unusual for one of the the older kids to join me even then, biking alongside as I stride briskly around the block several times. My walks, which last about 45 minutes or so, are a very traumatic experience for my youngest child though. She is almost 2 and still in that crazy mommy-love stage where it pains her to be apart from me for even a minute (thus, the insistence that she join me in the bathroom sometimes). Anyway, when I leave for my walk my baby stands at the door crying as it shuts in her face. She is fine, of course, as soon as the door clicks shut and I set off down the driveway. The tears are for dramatic effect, as with all toddlers. Recently it got to a point that every night upon my return, the dramatics would start again though. Not dramatic crying and carrying on, but a dramatic reunion, as though I had been gone for years. As soon as I’d open the door the whole family would look to the little one and say, “Mommy is home!” and she would smile and run to me and want to be picked up. She would snuggle with me, no matter how sweaty I was from my workout, and wrap her little arms around mine and say, “home.” At first, this little scene only ever occurred after our long nightly separation. But lately, it has been happening more and more. If I go back to my bedroom to talk on the phone in peace for 15 minutes, leaving her in the family room playing nicely with her siblings, she will come to me as soon as I emerge and hold my arm tightly saying, “home”. If I manage to take the laundry out to the washing machine without her following closely on my heels, she will find me as soon as possible and look up at me and say, “home”.
Lately, when we are out she will look up at me and say, “uppa” (which means pick me up). Then, when she is as close to me as possible, she will clutch my arms and say, “home”. She has done this at church, at the store, in line at the post office. Wherever we are together and she can hug me tight she will look at me and say, “home” all comforted and happy. It is the sweetest thing. My oldest daughter thinks her little sister is adorable and hilarious. “Wherever you are is home for her,” she tells me laughing. My daughters are both right. The little one is referring to being with me as being home. And, home is not at all about the place we are or the walls around us. Home is about being with the people we trust, the people who love us and care for us. Someday, the word “home” may no longer be associated with me in my little girl’s mind, but for now I am just grateful to be able to be home with her everyday.