05 November 2014

To the Expat Mom Who Wants to Go Home

On some days like today, I've had it.

I'm done with the distance
and the language difficulties
and the no-family-babysitters
and the siren call of significance

. . . and I want to go home.

I fantasize a spontaneous plane trip across the Pacific, a surprise arrival, a glorious vacation.

Then reality clicks in and the flood of noises that define my life overseas reenter my sensory sphere: car horns beeping outside, neighbors talking loudly in Korean, my kids playing and calling to me, the washing machine on spin cycle, the train passing by . . . and I remember the transience of my life and the nomadic ambiguity of home.

Where is home?

What is it, exactly, that I want? that I miss?

I want convenience. I miss familiarity. I wish it were easier.

But what I need to remember is that we live abroad, and therefore home is wherever we are together. It's not a place anymore but a feeling of belonging. It's where we can be ourselves. Am I creating that home for us when we're in Korea, in the Philippines, in Thailand, in America?

Even when we're surrounded with different cultural norms and bombarded with sensory overload, we can still belong with each other. I can cling to my children and tell them they are lovely. I can rest against my husband and know that I am known. We five can bind together in an apartment, in a hotel, in an airport, or as guests in someone else' house--and belong with each other.

And with this anchor of belonging, we can recharge the bravery needed to live cross-culturally.

Because really--no matter where I am, I'll always find something to want, something to miss. So instead of blaming homesickness, I need to own up to my own weaknesses, ask for and accept help, and humbly return to God as my security.

So to the expat mom who wants to go home, I send you a hug and this reminder I need myself: Home is here. Hold your family close and create a haven of belonging. Don't let the different world outside send you to fantasy land. Instead, deepen your roots and claim home right where you are.

Abide in Him,

Do you, too, blame homesickness when you feel the expat blues? 
What are some ways we can create "home" in the midst of unfamiliarity? 

Related articles you may also appreciate:
Defining Home and Heaven
Marriage: The Home in My Heart
Distance and What We Miss


  1. A lovely thought. thanks

  2. I was 8 and 1/2 years an expat mom. You have all my sympathy. Know that now we are back in America, home is still anywhere we are together. It was one of the ideas that made moving back bearable.

  3. Hi Malia! I found your blog through Taking Route. I saw that we're both in Korea, so I clicked over to say hi. And then I found this post! Such a needed reminder. 감사합니다 :)

    1. I'm so glad you found me! And praise God that you found this post encouraging. I revisit this truth too--often. :)


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