Oops! my apologies -- thought I sent this at 8AM, but I must have pushed the wrong button...
I don't generally think of my house as exemplifying great architecture or beauty, but the morning sun gave some elegance and grandeur to this piece of it, set against a brilliant blue. It seemed like a good reason to think about house and home today.
I have never been a whiz at housekeeping. "Housewife" is a term that always made me bristle, even though the fact that I stayed home with children led many a person to give me that label. I was NOT married to my house. Clutter accumulates, the dishes don't get done every day. Even though a decorator looking at my living room windows told me, "You can't just leave sheer curtains up with nothing else," I have - for years. Two kitchen walls have been bare sheetrock since 2003. Our house is loved, it has character, it is welcoming, but it is not tidy.
On the other hand, my feelings about home evolved quite dramatically as my children grew. I came to embrace the term "homemaker." To create a home - a warm, comfortable, healthy, loving environment that nurtures, inspires, and opens worlds of confidence and exploration - THAT is a worthy cause. Sitting down together at the dinner table, decorating for Christmas, building cardboard castles in the living room, watching a kid-created puppet show, reading for hours on a rainy day from a massive pile of picture books from the library -- THAT is making a home, and I loved it. Even when the laundry wasn't done.
One of the tough things about this approaching empty nest is the nature of homemaking. I love my husband, but creating a home for him alone is just not enough motivation. I think J feels a lot the same way. Where do we find the drive to make a home now? The two of us have been talking a lot about what we want to do. Do we want to travel more, or spend more time creating a wonderful haven out of this home that we have? Re-do the kitchen? Plant trees? a bigger garden? put in more fencing? get farm animals again? paint the house? move the garage? add a deck?
The notion of grandchildren coming to visit even enters our thoughts, but we know better than to make any real plans around that fantasy. It's hard even to figure out what we want, having focused so much on what would make our home a good place for kids, for teenagers, for friends. What will we do for ourselves now?
I met a boat captain one time who lived on his own boat. He couldn't imagine, he said, living in one place, with the same view out the window every day. It was a unique perspective. I guess I really do like the consistency and comfort and history of home. And the view isn't the same every day; that's the beauty of living in a temperate climate. Without home, I don't think I could enjoy travel nearly as much.
Dream interpreters say that a house in dreams often represents your body. If you dream of a vermin infested house, you may be sick or out of shape or worried about your health. Even in waking hours, I think, our homes are another representation of ourselves, and their state influences our state of mind. One sure way to brighten up your spirits is to clean up the house. Or rearrange the furniture.
Our house is a shell that we inhabit, just like our bodies. I guess both kinds of shell are worth giving time to. To feel "at home" means to feel comfortable, secure, healthy...free to be ourselves. If we can make ourselves at home in both kinds of shell that we inhabit - construction and anatomy - we'll be doing pretty well.