As I try and integrate myself into the here and now, I am reminded of the days when I used to work as an assistant in the toddler room of Mt. Sopris Montessori School. Nestled in the heart of the Roaring Fork Valley below the majestic mountain, many of my life’s most important lessons were learned here—imparted to me from a few great mentors, but also the children themselves! It was a beautiful growing period in my young-adult life, however, not without its daily challenges. One of the biggest of those was “the morning drop-off…”

While some children were eager to get started with the morning activities that our cozy little classroom offered, there were always a few that needed extra “help” in letting go of mom or dad—some literally had to be pried loose!!! It was always an event that tugged at my heartstrings, because somehow, I seemed to recall my own early years of life and missing “home,” as I spent my day with a babysitter… I know it is a reality that many parents are forced to accept as they assume the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for their children, but nonetheless, it is not always easy or comfortable for either party involved!!!

The children that took longer to warm-up seemed to need ongoing support and extra attention at these drop-off times. I often thought it was because they were not comfortable around strange people and places, but I also think a lot had to do with not wanting to be separated from the tender-loving arms of their parents—coupled with parents not wanting to let go!!! Almost daily, we were having to assist these little souls as they made that transition from “home” to our tiny, but sweet little classroom.

The assistance did not stop after the parents were gone. Throughout the day, we had to maintain vigilance in keeping certain little ones sufficiently focused, or “distracted,” so they would not have an all out melt-down every time they remembered mommy or daddy!!! Some children made frequent use of a special bench they could sit on if they needed to suck on their binky or snuggle their blanket, and once they were feeling confident again they were able to tuck these items back into their cubby and reintegrate themselves into the classroom’s activities once more!

Often, these little people would be so absorbed in their work, they would forget entirely how much they missed mommy or daddy—until… It never failed; some other child would happen to mention their “mommy [this],” or “daddy [that],” sending the homesick children into immediate withdrawal again—starting the whole cycle anew!!! Whatever they had been previously enjoying or focusing on went quickly out of focus, and their fragile hearts would again weep and yearn for mommy or daddy to hurry back and get them!!!!!

I cannot say that I ever blamed them. I have felt homesick most of my life—up until I had children of my own!!! Then, suddenly, I was home. My life became nearly perfect and complete. There were always plenty of hardships and sacrifices to be made over the years, but somehow, there was always the reassurance that, as long as we were together, nothing else mattered—we would be ok!!!!!

Lately, I have felt very much like the toddlers that had separation anxiety each new morning, and then subsequently throughout the day. My “to-do” list is far too long, and it keeps me plenty busy and distracted. For the most part, my life is good… except for when, all-of-a-sudden IT IS NOT!!! Then, it is really bad, and it hurts a WHOLE awful lot—like I want to just curl up on the “binky/blanket bench” and cry until my babies come home….

There are moments every day that trigger my remembrance of home. Sometimes, I am able to tenderly acknowledge and embrace these thoughts in my heart and mind—cherishing the closeness I feel to my departed children beyond the veil. Then, there are other times that these remembrances FULLY overtake me, and I become a pathetic puddle on the floor…

It does not seem to matter how “cozy” my little home is now—this homesickness inside will FOREVER remain. Much like the toddlers that were often easy to distract into joyful moments—they never forgot for long where their hearts truly belonged… As Josie once reminded me, “Home is Where My Mom Is,” the honest, humble truth remains—HOME IS WHERE MY CHILDREN ARE!!!!!

The valley below Mt. Sopris in July of 2016–one of the only photos I have with my four children together.

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