During those first few weeks, I would wake up with tears already pooling in my eyes. I’d pull myself together enough to drive to school and supervise 14 toddlers who missed their mommies and daddies just as much as I missed mine. Every time a teary-eyed child told me they missed their parents my heart would ache in solidarity. I envied my students. They could cry out all their feelings, while I bottled up those same emotions, ironically, for the sake of being an adult.
I learned to adjust despite my own misgivings, and my students did too. It did not happen overnight, but gradually each of us learned to enjoy our days of supervised chaos. I learned to look for small victories with my students, like negotiating how to share the dinosaur toy, learning a new letter of the alphabet, or changing diapers faster than my coworker who held the Diaper Master title.
One day, after a massive tickle war between me and my students, I asked little Jose if he liked being in our class. He giggled and answered, “Yes, but Daddy is going to get me soon. I love my Daddy.” I realized then that his being homesick never really went away; he had just learned to see it in a different light. Instead of that little pull on his heart becoming an all-consuming sadness, it became a reminder that his daddy loved him and was coming to bring him home. Jose had just learned to find joy in the meantime.
Resting in Hope
Later that day, when the parents of my students arrived to pick up their sons and daughters, I sat back and watched the perfect joy of a child running into his father’s arms. As delighted as Jose was to see his father, I could see every ounce of that joy mirrored in his father’s eyes. At that moment I knew I could make it. Like Jose, I could count my homesick heart as a blessing, a reminder of how much I was loved. I didn’t need to dwell on my sadness because I knew I would see my family again, and that would be a happy day indeed.
Even now that I am back home in California, when I witness tragedy like the devastating crimes committed in my own country, and I feel my heart yearning for a better place, I know what it means. I am a little homesick for heaven. So I try to follow Jose’s example, by doing my best to find and spread joy in the meantime, all the while resting in hope and trusting in the goodness of my heavenly Father to pick me up at the end of the day.
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Meghann Heinrich writes from California.
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