Where is home?



We live very far from my home town. I mean very far. As far as we could have gone. I even told my parents when we moved to New Zealand, ‘Look, if we move again we will get closer to you!’. I was born in the northeast of Spain, Catalonia, and New Zealand is completely opposite in the globe.

I always liked adventure, so when the opportunity arose to move to New Zealand I didn’t blink twice and I told my husband ‘of course we are going!’. In the last six years here I have worked, had one child, been a full-time-mom, made some really good friends, bought land, build a house and even applied for citizenship. It looks like we are quite settled. But, are we? In the back of our minds we have always wondered what the future would hold for us, where we would end up living, none of us being born here and actually coming from different parts of the world – my husband is not Spanish.

Lately I have been feeling more strongly than in the past this urge or need to go back to my origins, to connect with my roots again. I have started feeling very strongly that I want to spend quality time with my grandparents, to ask them about their stories, to actually get to know them. And then, I would love for my daughter to connect with her grandparents, her great-grandparents while they are still with us.

Yesterday a friend wrote something in her facebook wall that is so appropriate here. We all have heard that home is where your heart is but she said her heart was split into so many places all over the world. It has been subtle for me but it is getting stronger. Whatever we end up doing we will leave amazing friendships behind, or loved family members. Although this is quite usual for some – my husband’s family live scattered in the US and they moved even over oceans when he was a child – , my family didn’t move much, all of them still live where they were born or close by, all of them in the same place or not far. This makes me feel a very strong connection to the place where I lived for all my childhood and teen years, where all my family still is, and some childhood friends too. And even though I have thought for a long time that I wouldn’t go back, that adventure lied ahead, I am not that sure anymore. The ‘never say never’ saying is resonating in my ears these days, when I wonder where home is and where I would like to be now.

Is this part of getting older? Does it come with having kids? Has it just come down to me now who I am and where I come from? I don’t know, but lately I have found other people in similar situations. We all followed adventure and/or love, we all crossed oceans, but there is always a voice calling us back. Whether we finally go back or not is another story thought. Are we going to go back? Maybe, maybe not. But now I also wonder how it will be for her, our daughter. She was born in New Zealand but she doesn’t have extended family here, although she would definitely leave good friendships behind if we decided to leave. Would she feel a strong connection with this marvellous land in the antipodes even if we went back to Europe? Would she have the need to come back later in her life to figure out the same questions I am now pondering for myself?  Whatever we do, New Zealand will definitely be part of her and her story, and ours too, and it has definitely been home for us and it still is, while we try to find out what the future holds.






Getting dirty or learning?

pexels-photo-542556.jpegI used to be a bit averse to my daughter getting very dirty. I suffered for her clothes, for having to give her a bath afterwards, for the house. My priorities have change and for that I have to thank, among other things, Playcentre. This is quite a unique organisation of early childhood education centres run by parents, set up in New Zealand many years ago. I learned a lot just attending one of the centres but best of all, they offer free education for families in order to learn all together and have the knowledge to contribute running the centres.

So going back to messy play… the other day, looking through some old things, we found some poster paints that we had forgotten about. Instantly my daughter felt like using them, so when in the past I would have doubted, I confidently thought ‘yes, we just need to find the right place and set it up appropriately’. That meant setting the painting things in an old coffee table that we had put outside just for these purposes, and taking her clothes off. I still couldn’t avoid telling her to paint only on the paper (I won’t next time!) but after a while, there was paint in her body and she had also painted the climbing fort she has next to the ‘messy table’.

I thought ‘cool, she is having fun, exploring her body, changing it, decorating her fort… lots of learning going on!’. So I was even a bit proud of myself for having changed my mind set about messy play, painting her skin and even things like the fort. It was very interesting to see my husband’s reaction though. He didn’t like it. He reminded me of myself a while back and I totally understand why he didn’t like it – when not used to it and when not understanding the learning that is going on it just seems an inappropriate thing to do, painting herself and the already ok-looking fort. But then, think about it. It was non-toxic poster paint, totally washable. Even on the fort, exposed to rain and sun, it wouldn’t last for long. And what if it did? It is her fort, isn’t she allowed to decorate it the way she wants? I think yes.

I enjoyed watching her immerse on delicately painting different parts of her body in different colours. There was a lot concentration, fine motor skills work, experimenting with her image. The learning was amazing and she wasn’t hurting anyone or anything so, why not? I often find myself going back to this idea of ‘if she is not hurting anything or anyone then it is probably ok’, which I found in ‘It’s OK not to share… and other renegade rules for raising competent and compassionate kids’ by Heather Shumaker.

Still we had to ask her not to come in the house with the paint. Some things cannot be done and that is totally ok – even necessary to understand how our social world works -, but we need to let them find the space (that means the place, time and way that doesn’t hurt anyone or anything) to do as much as they need for it is their right to do what they want with their life and to learn the things that interest them in the way they find appropriate. So as much as we can, let’s let them be messy. It is not just about getting dirty, it is learning through being messy. And if doing it at home it is too much for some of us, then let’s find a space where they can do it. I found Playcentre and now I feel very comfortable with it at home too.