Do you ever think about why, post 9/11, the US government opened a new Cabinet door called the Department of Homeland Security? I don't mean why they started it, period--I mean why they called it that. "Homeland" is a word that pulls far more strings than "country" or even "nation." You can add another layer and get "fatherland," a word that in the US has specific Nazi connotations to this day, and "motherland" too exists, often used to parody Russians in popular culture; of course nationalism is only worthy if your country is the one in question.
Motherland means body, soil, sweat and grit and blood, the place that holds your roots, the ground that spawned you. In the same way that we dislike to think about the birth process and the (as Frank Herbert wrote) tender indignities of physical love and the numerous small ways in which our bodies betray us daily, we find considering the nuts and bolts of our country uncomfortable. Families have so many dark secrets; countries have even more, shared shame and things everyone knows but no one talks about.
My mother's body: It is rough and vast and beautiful, scarred, aging but strong, miraculous, cruel.She has done great acts of creativity and terrible, casual brutalities. My body is the mirror of my mother, a microcosm. We move away, we shave our heads, we tattoo and paint our walls bright red, we iron out accents, buy new shoes, but a thread, a rootlet, of our mothers remains. We can never really return home, but what does that matter, when we carry our mothers with us?