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Misplaced Mommy: There's No Place Like Home

I've never missed home as much in all the years I spent away than I have in these past six months. I suppose I was kept busy chasing after a rambunctious toddler with a large pregnant belly that it didn't hit me until I walked into my in-laws' house with my newborn son, wishing for the smell of new paint and fresh baby linens. Instead I was crammed in a room that smelled like cat pee and bad cologne, with nary a blue balloon or big white stuffed stork to be found.

All those lonely days I endured, questioning the old-fashioned ways of Mississippians was nothing compared to what I have seen since I moved to Philadelphia. If I thought I felt misplaced in a town that closed down early on Saturday nights and opened late on Sundays for church, I hadn't envisioned moving back home.

What's most surprising is that it's not just my residency with my husband's family that continues this feeling of misplacement, but more so my adjustment to being back where I grew up, with my own family and friends who are not used to the person that I am and maybe wish I would go back to the person I was.

Thanks to the few years of isolation, I've become incredibly reliant on the internet, spending much of my days and nights writing my stories and engaging in several online businesses, and I use email for most of my communication, especially as of late since talking with someone while my newborn and toddler are screaming in the background just doesn't seem right. But now there's this expectation that I should be out, with people, and not hibernating in someone else's office on someone else's computer. Apparently, the internet is only for lonely people who have nothing else better to do. But given my choices, the internet is way more comforting and forgiving than the people by whom I'm surrounded.

When I lived far away, my presence was special since people never saw me. But now that I'm here, it seems I've just faded away into the woodwork. I barely hear from my own mother who lives less than an hour away, I haven't spoken with my brother since having my son, and friends who rarely check email are upset that I haven't called or written. It's as if I've come back and been handed some unreasonable expectation to make up for all the time I was gone—regardless of the fact that I'm enduring a highly stressful living situation, I just had a baby, and my toddler has decided it's the perfect time to enter the terrible twos.

I'm still misplaced, except I'm home, amidst family and friends, so it's even more confusing. And it hurts more.

I thought being closer would mean I'd see my own family more often and that they'd treasure the time that they had, particularly with my kids, and make an effort to see us. But apparently they figure that since they only saw us once or twice a year and it worked out fine, that's all they need.

I find myself wishing for how it was—even though the closest Target and Starbucks were two hours away, at least when I came home, it was home—my own home, with my own kitchen and bed. I didn't have to explain everything I said and did, I didn't have to answer ridiculous questions, and I didn't have to defend my choices or decisions because no one cared. And I didn't have the now dashed hopes of my daughter spending many days and nights with my own mother and brother.

Until I'm able to be in my own home again, I'll still be somewhat misplaced. The year ahead has at least two more moves—with new people and new places for me to meet and explore. But now I know I'll only be physically misplaced, as my heart will be with my immediate family—my husband, my children, and my close friend. Thanks to my blogs, other internet ventures, and this column, I've learned that I'll always have a home, where people recognize me, embrace me, and remind me that I'm definitely in the right place.

column added on 2007-03-04 :: ::

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Kristen M. Chase
COLUMNIST PHOTO

Kristen took the plunge into motherhood via a surprise pregnancy, now a blossoming 19-month old toddler, and provides the diversity on her block as an Asian American Yankee in the Deep South. As a former college professor, published textbook author, musician, and diversity advocate, Kristen's a proverbial "fish out of water," trying to find her way in a place that time has clearly forgotten and desperately trying to balance her roles as mother and military wife while not losing her sense of self (including a hankering for heels and a good martini).

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