|There’s no place like home.|
A single word that evokes a spectrum of images and emotions within us all.
What is home?
The series of images that go through my mind begin with a Victorian tri-plex that my family owned and we lived in until I was 5. In my preschool eyes this home was huge, beautiful and all that I could dream of. I had no knowledge of the pain of the community that it was within, surrounded by transient drug dealers and mentally ill Vietnam vets, where my father was the one-man neighborhood watch association. This was home.
For the next 13 years, home was affectionately referenced by others as “The Highley Hotel”–the new home that my parents built out in the country. It was in the middle of 5 acres and where my brother and I could freely roam. We spent our spring, summer and autumn days exploring the woods and the century-old barns full of ancient treasures. We lived “on the compound” (think Kennedy family compound) with family as our next-door-neighbors and could throw a rock to many other family members’ houses. Yes, this was home.
When I was in college, while home was still where my parents lived, home also became the dorms and friends that I lived with. The Second South Sweeties of Morrison Hall my freshman year were truly a family, and some of my very best friends to this day are SSS’s. Myers Hall, which I loved so much that I spent 3 years there, then became my home. Again, some great friendships were forged in this place, formative conversations and events occurred within its walls, and it was home.
After college, a couple of girlfriends and I moved into our first apartment and home was now independent of my family of origin. Although I had not lived there in 4 years, home was officially no longer in Ohio. I became a Hoosier–whatever that is?!?
A year later, my girlfriends had moved out to other apartments and Jason moved in after we got married. This was now our home together. My definition of home also became shaken up for the first time in my life. Within weeks of returning from our honeymoon, we found ourselves on the defensive against a landlord who had taken a quick dive off the deep end. To make a long–yet fascinating glimpse into mental illness–story short; after our door being busted in, receiving a series of threatening phone calls, making multiple calls to the police and ultimately learning how to serve a restraining order, this was no longer home. We moved to a new apartment and a year later moved to the house where we still live today.
So, this is home. Right?
Well, now that I should have a pretty straightforward answer, it’s not so simple.
I’ve never really felt comfortable labeling myself by my occupation, feeling that while “teacher” or “Census representative” or “childcare provider” were/are things that I do, they are not who I am. However, now that I no longer am employed in an occupation beyond a very part-time basis, I’ve found that my answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?” is now something that I feel completely at peace answering.
I am a homemaker.
Ok, before your eyes gloss over and visions of June Cleaver dusting the knick-knacks in pearls comes to mind, that’s not what I mean. At all. And if you know me, you know just how laughable that image is to me! I don’t see the role of homemaker as a cook, decorator or laundress either. Yes, I do all of these things, but it’s not what I do for a living. This is not what makes up my life.
I make a home by creating the space for my family to grow our relationships in breadth and depth. Part of that does entail doing the mundane of preparing meals and keeping (some semblance of) order in our home, so that we can maximize our quantity of time together, in order for quality time to emerge. I make a home by creating a space for my family to land after spending their days out in the world. For our kids, this is exploring new places, learning new things and building new relationships. For my husband this means building into the lives of students and staff at school and building into and onto the infrastructure of our society. They need to know that at the end of the day, there is a safe place where they can be who they are and recharge for the next day. This is why I make a home.
Home is also made by doing things we love, and learning new things together. It’s being purposeful in the activities that we invest our lives into and being intentional about how we spend our time together.
Home has become less of a where and more of a who. I can be at home in any place, if I’m allowed to be free, and if I am with Jason and our kids.
Home is where I am free to be me.
Home is where you are free to be you.
Home means being known and accepted, safe and loved.
Home really is where your heart is, and once you find where that is, there’s no place in the world like home!