As I told my son to go to bed for the fifth time this Mother’s Day evening, I reflected on how patient my mom was with me. How she never turned me away when I tiptoed into their bedroom at night, trying not to wake my Dad. How she’d scratch my back and my arm to lull me back to sleep.
A dull ache overwhelmed my heart for the first time in months, and I immediately recognized it as it settled in like an old friend. Homesick.
I inwardly laugh that there was a time not very long ago when I wanted nothing more than to put distance between myself and my southern roots. To leave the endless humidity, the obsession with college football, and the wretchedly hot summer days. I longed to explore the other forty-nine states.
Less than a year after getting married, that’s exactly what I did. We left. And two cross country moves and nearly five thousand miles later, I realized something. South Carolina is in my blood. I can’t escape it.
I look back at the woman I was nearly eight years ago, and though my roots haven’t changed, I have. I’ve been stretched and pulled and forced outside the zone of comfort I’d built around myself. My faith was renewed during those years of packing, repacking, not knowing where we were going to live or how we were going to build a new life.
When you move away from the place where you’re rooted, your definition of home changes.
I gave birth to my first son nearly a continent away from the place where I spent my childhood. Utah, with it’s majestic peaks, spectacular sunsets, and crystal crisp rainbows became our home. Our new friends became our family.
Then, after nearly four years, we did it all over again. The mountain side of Maryland, with it’s rolling hills and small town feel became the place we would welcome our second son.
I wouldn’t trade the way these experiences have shaped me. How each move has pushed me to seek community and friendship. My sense of control was replaced with complete surrender to the God who makes all things new.
My relationship with my husband became stronger than the forces which threatened to pull it apart. We were driven to rely on each other through every struggle which came and passed.
But tonight I am homesick. I know that no matter how many times we move and rebuild, my anchor is rooted in the Palmetto tree state. And that anchor is deep.
Phone calls, texts, and Skype conversations can never replace a hug and a face to face conversation over a glass of sweet tea.
Like an accent that creeps back into my voice when I’m around my family, South Carolina will always call me back. With her sandy beaches, real barbecue, calabash shrimp, and sentences that start with y’all.
Instead of trying to fight the call, I will let it settle like a slow refrain that gives rhythm to my step. As I dance my two-year-old to sleep and sing with that southern drawl creeping into my tongue, I know I will be okay.
I will be more than okay.