You strive, struggle and sacrifice to build a home. To create a structure for your life that includes a home base. But, do you feel at home? Do you breathe freely, laugh easily and love openly?
Remember What It Feels Like to Be At Home?
One of the places I always return to for comfort is my hometown. The small community where my parents reside is where I go to rest. I can return to my country-girl ways in a space where my parents and their respective homes insulate me from the hectic and hustling reality of my life in Minnesota. People are busy in my hometown but as a former resident and visitor I look upon the town with both nostalgia and an outsider’s distance. I am blissfully free to enjoy the positive memories and ignore the fact that things are not as simple as they used to be.
I note that none of my parents has a dishwasher. Dishes are done almost without thought as conversations are carried on simultaneously. I see that my dad’s acreage requires a lot of lawn mowing but it’s also a haven for stillness and quiet. I do not eat gourmet dishes, organic produce or sushi when I am at ‘home’. I enjoy the foods I grew up with — roasts, potatoes, burgers, pizza, canned vegetables. Enormously satisfying but even more so as they are often served with kitchen table teasing and revelations. We’ve long since discovered and poked the vulnerabilities of each family member so now there is just simmering acceptance and mutual understanding for each person’s plight. A little ribbing is OK because we are home where it is safe.
I want this for my children.
Untethered Suburban Vagabonds
Nowadays home is where our stuff is. It’s where we crash at night when all the doing, building and running is done. It’s where we do laundry, comb cyber-space and try to eat a few meals together. So much of life is carried out outside of the home. Work, school, and our cars vie for the title of, Most Time Spent Here. We almost always have one foot out the door. And even if we get a few glorious hours at home, our hearts and minds are preoccupied with emails, weekly schedules and what’s next?
Remember when Sundays were sacred? Stores were closed and church was the only acceptable activity outside the home. Big midday meals were common and the pace was slow. Homes glowed with quiet reflection and animated chatter. Savory smells drew family members to the table and there were few to no worries about the phone ringing and interrupting the flow of enjoyment.
I am consciously working to create a home-like aura for my kids. It’s not easy. Their time is divided between two homes. I ache when I think about the chasm they must feel beneath them when they transition from one house to the next. I do know that when they land at my or their father’s house they are embraced and blessed with deep and true attempts to listen and be present. We both want our houses to be their homes. Which is better than when we spent much time creating the appearance of a nice house and home but never really felt at ease or enjoyed it.
I am not saying we are perfect now. School, work, technology and tender egos pull at us but we’ve learned outside distractions must be silenced every once in a while in order to feel at home, to genuinely connect. We have to invite the stillness, make eye-contact over burgers, do the dishes together.
Why It’s So Hard to Feel At Home With Ourselves
We rarely get to go internal. There is so little solitude or slowing down in our lives. Space to delve into our own essence, story, dreams. If we do not know our centers then we are never sincerely at home. We need to know that space we can return to again and again for comfort and strength. Once we’ve spent some time digging around in the basement or sun room of our soul we are ready to open doors and windows to let others in — provided we want them as guests or residents.
I Feel So At Home With You
You know that lovely sensation of being able to lower your guard. Recognizing in another a semblance of something from your past or from your heart. It’s comfortable but not in an old sagging couch way. You know they won’t judge you harshly because they know where you come from. Like you, they have spent time thrashing around their own attic and know where both the cobwebs and valuable antiques live. They are ready to curl up with you by the hearth and get lost in warm honesty.
Make It Home
It’s easy to wander around feeling home-less in this day and age. There is little to ground us. We abandon our homes on Sundays to attend kids’ sporting events or run to Target for toothpaste. Most things encourage us to flit around like birds without nests. But we need to cocoon our well-being by saying no to disconnecting activities. We need a place where we connect with ourselves. We need this so we can venture away from home but know there is peace to return to. We carry that peace with us and use it as a welcome mat to invite others in.
Home maintenance will do its best to erode time we could be spending loving and listening within our safe space. Obligations and pleasure will draw us away from home (often). May you make it back to the place where you breathe freely, laugh easily and love openly.
Do you spend more time building or maintaining your home than living in it?
Where do you feel at home? Who makes you feel at home?
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