This week, I'm asking myself the question: what makes "home" home to me?
Back in Cambridge, MA, when roommate S. and I return to our little 2-bedder apartment after a long day gallivanting along Newbury Street shopping for shoes and bags, and especially when we return from a cold and windy day, we inadvertantly will say to each other, "Home sweet home!".
Certainly, after our arduous 10-hour bus ride from Niagara Falls, nothing was sweeter than stepping through the door into our unit and stretching our travel-weary legs out in front of the TV for another re-run of Sex and the City.
So home to me in the past 4 months was a tiny 40-year-old 2-bedder refuge from cold weather and rest for tired feet.
Since last Thursday, my idea of what a "home" is has changed.
Home is walking through the double sliding doors of the airport arrival hall and right into the arms of a 17-month-old who is all smiles at the sight of you. And though wordless, he speaks volumes with arms that cling on tight and a head pressed so hard into your shoulder that when he looks up at you there is a ruddy patch on his cheek.
"I missed you, mommy."
Home is the feeling you get waking up in the middle of the night to prepare a bottle of milk to a crying toddler, and having satiated his hunger and changed his diapers, plant wet sloppy kisses on his cheek and watch him fall right back to sleep again.
Yet, here is what home is not.
Home is not having to wrestle with the frustrations of living under the same roof as the inlaws, whose house rules you have to abide by. Including having little say when they take over the care-giving in the morning as you leave for work. The boy is behind closed doors, their closed doors, and though you want to say good-bye you don't get a chance to because they think it will just make the boy cry more.
"Go, just go, we'll look after." in a hushed, conspiratorial tone.
Home is not having one grandparent barge into the room with a bottle of milk within the first 10 seconds of the boy crying, and having to say firmly, "Don't worry, I AM taking care of him."
So, at this time, 5 days after returning to Singapore, here is what home is to me.
It's looking forward to 12 months of spending time as a family again, in our own space in a different country, in a home that the husband lovingly put together, where the little one has all of mommy's time, without the mommy having somebody watch over her shoulders telling her what not to do.