Homesick

Porter my six year old was born tender and sentimental. He often turns to me in moments of love or sadness and says to me with tear brimmed eyes, “Mom does that make you feel like crying?” To which I always say, “Yes.”  Then his eyes spill over and he covers them with his hands and says, “Me too.”

This scene has played out so many times I couldn’t count them. I am so proud of his vulnerability. So honored that he opens up to me.

I knew that out of all of us he would be the one to experience homesickness. He is conscious of who he wants to have in his life. He has a large family of grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins that he feels close to. So when he turned to me yesterday at a restaurant with tear brimmed eyes and asked, “Can we go home for Halloween? I’d really hate to miss trick-or-treating. Then we could continue on our trip around the world.” I knew homesickness had hit.

As a parent it’s hard to explain how your child’s emotions can tug at you. It hurts you. You want to make their discomfort go away, even if you know that it’s healthy and needed. It seems the first five years have so much to do with how the next eighty will turn out.  My first reaction was to say OK we are done. We can go home. I don’t want you to feel like this.

I have to ankowledege what he is going through. I need him to know that he is seen. I decided to explain to him how I was feeling; that I don’t feel homesick in the same way he does. Because my home is with him, his siblings, and his dad and they are all with me. So my home is always with me. None the less I am trying to make the foreign familiar to him and I am trying to figure out how to navigate his nostalgia so, I told him that they do trick or treating in Frankfurt!  I hope that’s true! If not we will be doing it anyways I guess.

17 Comments
  • Mia van der Merwe
    Posted at 17:11h, 23 October Reply

    Such beautiful photos of you. It’s so special to see a young boy with such a big heart, real feelings.
    How do you explain that? How do you make that sad feeling go away?

    My suggestion would be to re-do a tradition. What is do you usually do at home? Maybe you can incorporate that into your daily schedule. Maybe let him Skype with people he specifically misses?

    I think it was good to explain that home is where the heart is. It’s difficult to understand, but I’m sure he would’ve gotten it some way.

    Good luck. Unfamiliar places and faces can be tough. A new adventure will always have challenges, but is the good that comes out of it that will stay with you forever.

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:10h, 24 October Reply

      I don’t know why I didn’t think of the simple idea to re-do a family tradition for Halloween. Thanks for the ingenious idea and for helping a mother out:)

  • Lisa
    Posted at 18:12h, 23 October Reply

    I lived abroad for a year, without my family. And when I was homesick my host mom used to take me out do a simple activity just both of us to change my mind. It was never related to home and she always reminded me that sure my real home was back with my family but where I was living was also a home for me.
    One thing not to do is FaceTime with your close family whenever he feels bad, because it’s only going to make him miss the family more and more.
    Everyone relate differently to homesickness, you just need to find a way to change his mind and he will get used to be away from home.
    Finally, celebrating Halloween anyway will be a blast for sure. And he surely will love it !!!

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:08h, 24 October Reply

      I like this. A simple activity with me to make hime feel safe and like he is at home. Also I think everyone is right I need to try and do our Halloween traditions here so I am about to get my craft on

  • Alisha Knight
    Posted at 18:20h, 23 October Reply

    We miss you all but it doesn’t hurt as bad with all the social media updates! So keep them coming. And…. what do you do with all the “Dinosaur eggs”…. How many is too many for the collection???? How do you pump the breaks on this!?!!?!!?? Falon is OBSESSED!

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:07h, 24 October Reply

      Yeah the dinosaur egg collection is a bit out of hand here too, and we have to keep our weight down for baggage! No tips here on how to stop it-just enjoy it because soon they might be wanting to collect items that are a lot more expensive 🙂

  • Mélanie
    Posted at 18:57h, 23 October Reply

    I’ve been in Asia for almost a month now and I’ve missed my mom surgery and my own birthday. Some days are harder but I have to keep thinking that this is a great opportunity for me to open up some doors to the world! Just keep showing him that you love him and that you,re all in this together and it will be better ❤️

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:05h, 24 October Reply

      WOW Asia! I hope you have continued success on your adventure. It’s nice to hear of others going through similar feelings. XOX

  • Sandie Tillotson
    Posted at 21:22h, 23 October Reply

    Awww Halloween is a special Tillotson holiday …carve some pumpkins and dress up in silly costumes all day – and give our treats .. maybe take some on the sting away

  • Laurie Szentirmai
    Posted at 21:43h, 23 October Reply

    You did exactly what I was going to suggest. Home is where your family is. Poor dude. I have always been a “homesick” when travelling person. To the point that as an adult I have huge anxiety when travelling, loose my appetite and have to push myself past it. Familiar people and events are always helpful. As for trick or treating there are many areas in Europe that do not do the door to door event, not sue about Frankfurt. I hope for him they do. May be grandma and grandpa could join you guys somewhere for Christmas and give him something to look forward to. I also find that quiet time with “normal” events helps my anxiety over being homesick.

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:04h, 24 October Reply

      I am going to take some time to do normal family events, more than I have been doing! Thanks for sharing your personal battle with homesickness and giving me some ideas to help us out as well. It take s a village!

  • mele estioko
    Posted at 00:37h, 24 October Reply

    love and miss you all so much ! 💗

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:02h, 24 October Reply

      Love you too Mele!

  • Heather graziano
    Posted at 04:13h, 24 October Reply

    Being homesick is tough, but it’s a great reminder of all the special people we have in our lives!
    I don’t know if Germany celebrates Halloween like we do in North America, but maybe you could bring a little tradition to Germany. Maybe spend an evening carving pumpkins, or hand out candy to neighbours ahead of time so the boys can trick or treat.
    This could be fun:
    http://www.kuerbisausstellung-ludwigsburg.de/en

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:02h, 24 October Reply

      OK that festival is seriously cool! I think it’s the perfect idea to bring our traditions here with us!

  • Bekah Little
    Posted at 04:25h, 24 October Reply

    Anytime I ever had a homesick camper (not quite the same but…) we always talked about what things we were missing and then we talked about what things we were most looking forward to and when those would happen. I also always offered to have them write letters to the people (or animals) they were missing. That worked about 9/10 Times.

    • Kenzie Tillotson
      Posted at 09:00h, 24 October Reply

      Thanks for the suggestion of writing letters! That’s a great idea

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