Monday, October 15, 2012

Coming Home: Same Place, New Eyes

We traveled far away for a long weekend. When our Sienna pulled into the driveway at 1:30 am, my husband and I breathed a prayer of thanks and lugged slumbering, long-leggedy children to their beds. Each of them smiled and sighed, nestling down into their well-worn sheets and blankets as we placed them in bed. Within two minutes of arriving home, every single one of us had said, It's so good to be home.

We have always loved road trips and travel. Much of our family lives far away and we enjoy driving through the middle of the night to wintry Michigan while we listen to unabridged John Grisham novels and munch on gas station candy. The kids sleep while he and I have the time and quiet to connect. Road trips have always been some of our best extended dates. 

But the older we get, the more home feels like gravitational pull. It's harder to stay away as long. Home anchors us.

I've realized that going away makes me grateful and I return with fresh appreciation.  

When we left last Thursday, all I could see was the imperfect and undone. The laundry wasn't put away. The boys' room was left a mess. I'd hoped to clean the bathrooms. Lately I've been discouraged by all that needs to be done: the Sharpie Monet that still graces the hallway, the ridiculously dirty carpets that need a massive steam clean. The list of projects is endless.

But being away always gives me new eyes, a sense of perspective. My house actually looks pretty good, I thought to myself at 2 am. And as I drifted off to sleep, I couldn't imagine any other place I'd rather be. 

Our humble vinyl-sided abode is our home. For nearly seven years now, it's been our home. I recently realized that seven years is the longest I've ever lived in any house. We've been in this locale for over 10 years, by far the longest I've lived in any location.

I daresay we've put down roots in the unlikeliest of places. 

The restless soul who used to long for travel and life in a big city, a place less provincial and more "cosmopolitan"... well, she sort of loves it here. Not because of the amenities. Not because it's the "dream house." Not because we have room for guests. Not because it's well-kept or all that organized or boasts a yard with flowering trees and a screen porch. Actually we have one fledgling tree on our entire property but hey, it's got a huge open space for hitting golf balls or throwing a football.  

I love it here because it's where we live. And man, do we live. The garage, drive, and yard remain in a perpetual state of disarray, thanks to little boys who build rockets out of junk and neighborhood kids who have scooted and biked and hot-wheeled and sidewalk-chalked thousands of laps around our driveway. We've scuffed all the walls, stained all the furniture, and moved things around into every possible configuration, trying to maximize space and make this little house work even harder than it already does. 

On a daily basis, I battle my family's mess and my soul's discontent.

But these last couple of years I've noticed a hopeful trend. Every time I go away, I come back and love home more than I did when I left. I see all that we have instead of all that I wish for. I breathe in memories and nostalgia and exhale thanks. 

Home is where the heart is. It's a cliche, maybe even a cheesy one. But it's true. Our hearts are here. Our roots are here. Our memories, the cherished ones and the awful ones, they're here. Our friends and neighbors are here. Our dreams are spun here. Our redemption is realized here.

Home loves us on the days when we taste our bitterest defeats and sweetest victories. Home shelters our family dinners, withstands the daily foot traffic of fourteen feet {plus the neighbor kids'}, tolerates reverberating band instruments and uproarious laughter, sibling squabbles and slamming doors.

I'd do better to love her back with the same steadfastness and unconditional love, seeing home for all that she already is and has been, instead of all that I wish her to be. 


I have especially enjoyed two different 31 Days series on Home:

Home. On Purpose. {The Nester}

abide: love where you live {Ellen @ Sweetwater}


  1. "I see all that we have instead of all that I wish for. I breathe in memories and nostalgia and exhale thanks."

    You, my dear, have just expressed what I believe to be the recipe for familial eucharisteo! Leaping and bounding into maturity and joy you are!


  2. Oh yeah. You'd better believe it. Yes, yes, yes. Amen. How many "likes" can I give one post??

    Know what? I think we've lived in Durham for the same amount of time you've lived there. And we've lived in this house since 2005--seven years. And this is the longest I've ever lived in one house.

    I'm middle-aged and you're young, but seems we're living some parallels, my friend.

    And this house I'm living in is lovely in lots of ways, but I STILL need the perspective of leaving and coming back. Because it's not perfect, and some days all I can see are the imperfections. But it's HOME, and that matters.

  3. 1. yes to the freshness of leaving and coming back. nothing blesses me more than hearing my own girl rejoice in being home after being away. i feel it, too.

    2. thank you for sharing my series. blerg. i want to quit everyday. but i'm thankful to know it is resonating.

    3. last night we went to the state fer (you know that's how to say it) and this morning i was plumb wore out. do you know what i did? i rested. the whole entire three hours of preschool. it felt rebellious and i thought of you. and yesterday? i went to the farmer's market and bought pumpkins and brought them home and just had this tickled but also guilty feeling that this? this is my life? i get to go slow and be present and not be totally lost in going, going, going? i know that tomorrow i'll probably fill up too much but it felt good for today. thank you for giving permission in your writing.

    4. i just hijacked your comment thread.


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