“Am I a Yankee?” Thoughts from a Georgia girl growing up in Maine

If you’ve been following me, you know that I moved to Maine from Georgia a little over 4 years ago.  2 months after the birth of our son.  Our oldest was about to turn 4.  This spring, she turned 8.

Our daughter has now lived half of her life in Maine and struggles occasional with location identity issues.  I’ll explain: she still remembers enough about Georgia to identify that as home, but her school years have all been spent here and this is where her life is.

We recently returned from a trip to Georgia where we soaked up every minute with family, friends, sightseeing, and eating LOTS of yummy Southern food.  My husband and I made a point to point out spots in our respective hometowns where our childhood memories were made and we were even able to catch up with old friends.

When we returned home from our vacation, Emalee posed the question, “Mama, what is my hometown?”

This question made me a bit sad, because the fact is, she no longer identifies with the place that we moved away from.  We still own our little starter home in GA and this is where our firstborn took her first steps.   Where I paced the floor cradling her and sat in a chair rocking her during those first few months of sleepless nights of newborn bliss.  My husband and I put a lot of sweat equity into that house and sweet memories were made there.  We walked through it a few weeks ago and pointed out to our children whose room was where we realized that Emalee remembers nothing about her life in that house.  Our stories of her first three years are more like folk tales to her than her own memories.  They are my memories.

The funniest conversation with Emalee came the other day on our way to day care.  I just had to share it with you because it was too darn cute not to:

Emalee: Mama, if Northerners are called Yankees, what do they call people from the South?

Me: Well, sweetie – I guess they call us Southerners.

Emalee: No, Mama – what is the nickname for Southerners? 

Me: I’m not exactly sure we have one – but I guess some folks from up here would call Southerners “Rednecks” – although I don’t think you have to be from anywhere in particular to be a Redneck. 

Emalee: Well, I don’t think that sounds very nice.  I think it is better to call Southerners “Native Americans”.  That way nobody gets their feelings hurt.  

So there you have it – drive time conversations with Emalee.  A girl trying to figure out if she is a Yankee or a Native American.

Yes, I did explain to her who Native Americans are.  And she is actually part Cherokee, so I guess she is in some way a red-headed Irish Native American Redneck Yankee.

We are all from somewhere.  We all have a story.  We all have a place that we call home.  Memories attached to our sense of place.

Yes, there is a part of me that wants a part of my children to identify with Georgia.  Life in the North is still somewhat new to me.  But I already have my sense of place.  I already know where home is.  My children are just getting started and I have to remember that.

In our family, we try to teach our children that home is where the love is – and not just where you sleep.

Home

Jennifer Collins (GracefulMess)

About Jennifer Collins (GracefulMess)

Jennifer is a mom with a day job and she likes to write about her victories and messes along the way. She is living an adventurous life as a Georgia transplant learning to thrive in Maine, with a strong Southern accent that screams that she is "from away" and a new-found love for lobster rolls and timely snow plows. Jennifer's writing has been featured on BlogHer, iVillage Australia, Daddy Doin' Work, and Mamapedia.