116. Home

There’s no place like home. Home is where the heart is. Home, sweet home. But for many of us, home isn’t what it once was. As I was growing up, I lived with my two parents. We moved four times as I was growing up, but we lived in one house for ten years, and to my brothers, my sister, and me, that place still seems like home. Neal Marlens, the guy who later grew up and produced “The Wonder Years,” lived next door to us, and I was one of his babysitters. So that nostalgic TV series meant something extra to me.
Since I moved away from my parents, I’ve lived in thirty-one other places. That may be above average, but I don’t think it’s out of the ballpark. I’ve moved because of job changes (both mine and my wife’s), divorce, landlord problems, neighborhood problems, and occasionally, the availability of a genuinely better place to live. There were many times my wife and I longed for a place that we could call “home,” but like many people in our generation, we had no such luck.
My daughters did live in one “home” for over ten years, but they can’t go back there now; some strangers live there. And though I sometimes drive by the place where I lived from 1955-65, just to reminisce a little, strangers live there, too. I can’t go home again.
I suspect that twenty years from now, not too many of you will live where you now live. And those of you who do probably won’t build a house for your child on the back ten acres. Times have changed, and we’ve got to face it.
What does this mean for children? Where are they going to find the stability they need? Part of the answer isn’t very cheerful. Most of them aren’t going to have the kind of stability many of us had. If they started out with two parents, they may not end up living with both of them at the same time. They probably won’t be able to visit the place where they were born; other people will probably live there.
Maybe, not knowing what it’s like to stay in one place, they won’t miss it. Maybe the last generations to have consistent, stable homes won’t pass on the consequent nostalgia to their children. But there is a home we can give our children that is more important than a house or traditional family structure. As our children grow up and face the challenges of their futures, maybe we can be their homes.

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