After a full weekend staying with family and enjoying the pleasures of being together with those I grew up with, it was also so good to come home.
I didn’t used to be such a homebody. Early on in our marriage, we would spend nearly every weekend staying over at one parents’ house or the other, taking our kids and baggage to last us a week in the wilderness. When the kids were little, it was so much easier to drive and spend a longer period of time together than to try to pack up and make it there and back in one day.
And when Brandon used to travel all of the time, I tried to fill my lonely nights and weekends with anything and everything, road trips and museums, parks and playgrounds. Every hour was filled with movement and activity. Home was a nice enough place, but the monotony and routine of it all made me frequently glad to leave it, kids in tow, for some other kind of adventure outside of its walls, or just some other space that also was home, with other people who are home.
Now the kids are growing and spinning off in their separate directions throughout the day, and I work from home. This space has become the central hub of all that matters in my life. Like no other season, I feel responsible for and able to shepherd in and cultivate peace and joy within this space, so that when my husband and my kids spiral in from wherever they have been out there, what they find in here is calm, light, and joy. Home ought to be a sanctuary, and that’s what I strive to make it… not just for my own family but their friends, and our friends, and our family when they visit.
That’s the joy I collect from home: the pleasure of preparing a place where my people’s needs are met, where the atmosphere is one of brightness and calm, even if the calm is filled with chaos and laughter and yippy dogs, a place where people feel at home, even if this isn’t where they rest their heads.
I recently read Tom Montgomery Fate’s newest book, The Long Way Home. The chapters in this memoir wrestle with the concept of home, far and near, the people and places that feel like home and those that are foreign. We are fortunate to feel at home in either of our parents’ houses. Both places are places of safety and comfort, laughter and love, joy and warmth (when the thermostats are turned up and the fireplace is on). There are also many places beyond our address in Ashland that feel homey to me, places in memory that have the essence of home baked into them: my grandmother’s farmhouse, for instance, or even farther back, my great-grandmother’s trailer, though she’s long gone, still feels in memory like home. So do the woods behind our house, the creek that ran through my grandparents’ forest, the fields of my youth.
Beyond anything else, the feeling of being at home somewhere has to do with safety, acceptance, and unconditional love. Whether it’s too hot or too cold, spotless or cluttered, small or sprawling, home is where you feel able to be yourself and loved for it. And this space, to me, is home.