Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"Home" for Different Family Members

I was just mentioning in my previous post how weird I now feel in relation to the US and the UK. I've been gone from the UK for so long that not everything is comfy and familiar these days. However, all my family members are still here (in the UK), as are my long time friends from school, university and work. No matter where you go you can't replace them, (even if you'd like to) and I make a big effort to reconnect with as many as possible on my annual visits.

When I get off the plane at Heathrow, even though it's often cold (very early morning) and wet (well, it is the UK after all),  I can almost feel my shoulders relaxing. Very difficult to explain; I just feel like I'm back where people understand me; I'm not "the British woman",  no one turns around when I open my mouth or attempts a feeble imitation of my accent.

What is quite odd for me though, is that this is not my children's "home". We've been coming here every year (and sometimes more) for twenty years now. Back before they had their own lives, I would bring the kids for 7 and 8 weeks, dragging them from pillar to post, having them sleep in strange beds, playing with children they'd never met before and eating stuff like beans on toast. They were little champs and have very fond memories of those summers. As they grew older however, they started to want to get back to their friends or just their normal surroundings; they're American after all, even though they proudly tell everyone and anyone that they are also British citizens.

I always say they are bi-lingual; actually, not only do they know the British words for all sorts of things, they can also do a mean Geordie accent! Were they to live here, I have no doubt they'd feel pretty comfortable fairly quickly, but I wonder if they would ever think of it as home.

Another aspect of expat life - having a different "home" from your kids.


  1. Yes, I can imagine that's strange. I have German friends in England, who felt it was important for their kids to learn German as they grew, as well as English - in part so that they could communicate with grandparents etc. At least you don't have the language issues for your kids that some expats have...

  2. When I moved from the NW to the SW as an 8 yr old...... I felt really homesick for ages but gradually when visiting back *home*, I began to feel that I really didn't belong like I used to. I got more unsettled as the years went by.
    Now I definitely belong here!
    So although its the same country, I definitely feel I can relate to your post.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  3. It is the strangest thing to have kids grow up a different nationality to you! I have to keep reminding myself that my kids are British. I have had to stop rolling my eyes when they say 'Haich' and 'Zed'!

  4. Many of my multi-national friends and family now have older children and have found that they often end up with one child choosing to live in the country from which one of the parents came. Then they end up with a dilemma, maybe on the death of their partner, as to in which country they should choose to live out the rest of their days. Others have families that feel they have no roots at all, no particular place to call home, because they have moved around so often. I just panic at the thought of so many potential deaths/serious ilnesses that I could be called on at a moment's notice and have to fly halfway around the world to help attend to.

  5. Goodness, me how right you are! My children are half Finnish and very proud of it but their home is definitely in the UK and they are terribly British. I too dragged them around friends and family each and every summer when they were growing up, and even now we usually go back to Finland as a family once per year. But, being British, they take the Mickey out of everything Finnish, but I know at the same time they are very proud of their Finnish roots.

    This should be filed under, 'Things you never think of when you fall in love with a foreigner'!

    Great post, as always.

    Helena xx

  6. My children, now 12 and 11, grew up in the UK, Italy and Switzerland and now I am making them move again to the Netherlands where me and my husband are from . We're hoping they will grow some roots.... They speak Dutch, but still feel very British to me. I wonder how we will all get on and also if I made the right decision.....

  7. Boy, can I ever relate! My home is in the Peak District of Derbyshire, where my parents grew up and where I spent summers until I went to college, and to which I returned every year, but my children's home is Boston, Mass. I love Boston, and there's nowhere else in the US I'd want to live except for New York, where I lived for 15 years, but it's a real emotional tug-of-war between the two. I've been writing about this, and the differences between the US and UK, in my blog, The Year of Living Englishly Two wonderful places--how to chose between them?

  8. Thanks all. Again, nice to know I'm not going a bit mad with my thoughts!


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