To say that I love this book is putting it mildly. I started to read it a few days ago and decided that I'd like to devote a series of blog posts to it (thus the addition of the "#1" in the title of this post!). This eye-pleasing hardcover coffee table book deals with a subject that is near and dear to my heart: HOMEMAKING, in the truest sense of the word. Being a homemaker is a vocation I take very seriously; after marriage and motherhood, I feel it is the most important work I do in my life here on earth. As the "heart of the home" (a title that I believe belongs to all mothers, everywhere, whether they work inside or outside the home), I long to create a sanctuary for my family. Because as authors Carrie Gress, Noelle Mering, and Megan Schrieber say in the introduction to Theology of Home, "Home is that place where we are meant to be safe, nurtured, known for who we are, and able to live and love freely."
"Ironically," the authors also say, "despite the innate human desire that there is for home, the notion that someone would actually want to make a home, providing a place of safety, love, order, education, and hospitality, has fallen out of favor. Could there be, in the minds of millions of women today, anything worse than being a 'homemaker'? The pendulum, however, seems to be swinging back toward home even if the homemaker title is still unpopular."
Personally, I don't care if the term is unpopular. I am actually proud to call myself a wife, a mother, and a homemaker. (Homemaker is a title that much more accurately describes the role of a woman who works primarily inside the home than the term "housewife," which really must be unpopular these days!)
My husband and I will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary this December. We are more financially capable of home improvements now than we were in the early years of our marriage. To say that we didn't always have the means to have the newest and the best of everything, when it came to the homes we lived in and the kind of furnishings and finishes found within them, is an understatement. Back when our boys were little, our priorities were keeping them healthy and well-fed and paying their Catholic school tuitions; home improvements were usually put on the back burner until we could afford them. So my home might not have always been ready for its HGTV close-up; but even during those times when we were on a shoestring budget, I always tried to make it as warm and cozy and comfortable as it could possibly be. I also wanted it to be pretty--a kind of foretaste of Heaven, a dwelling place that might ultimately help to steer the beloved members of my family to the Father's House, their eternal home.
Luckily, my husband learned over the years to be an outstanding handyman, tackling every sort of building, plumbing, and electrical project imaginable, and I have always been game for wall painting, picture hanging, and furniture refinishing. We did our best to make every home we lived in feel uniquely "ours," even if it was just a rental. We started out in a small apartment in Corpus Christi, TX; next, we moved into Navy base housing in Beeville, TX, and at the end of our time there, we became parents when we welcomed our first son; from there, we moved to Jacksonville, FL, where we bought our first home, a ranch-style house, and welcomed three more little boys; after my husband switched careers from Naval to commercial airline pilot, we lived for less than two years in a 1,100 sq ft house in the Chicago suburbs; next we moved to a rental home in Dover, NH; and after just a year there, we bought our "forever" home in that same town, a big Colonial on a quiet, wooded cul-de-sac street, where we lived for 26 years, welcomed a fifth baby boy, and raised our family. In every one of those settings, I was a SAHM and homemaker, working tirelessly to make my family feel safe, comfortable, and happy within the walls of our home.
Eventually, when our boys grew up, moved out, and moved away, the NH house didn't make as much sense anymore. We were constantly on the road, traveling to visit them and their growing families. So we made the somewhat painful decision to sell that house (the one into which we'd poured so much sweat equity over the years, the one we thought we'd never leave), and we moved south to be near all of them. I wasn't sure if our new, smaller house--located on a postage stamp-sized lot, in a cookie-cutter VA neighborhood--would ever truly feel like home. But not quite three years in, I can happily say that this new house is indeed our HOME now. A house is not a home if your people are never in it--and ours sure spend a lot of time in this one!
My husband is busy working on a project that will really make this new house work even better for our ever-growing brood of grandchildren (15 and counting!!), who come to visit here often. He is currently finishing off the basement, so that we will have a huge, kid-safe play area (as well as another guest bedroom and bath).
I help him any way I can, but let's be honest--he does most of the work! However, I am always busy myself at the task of homemaking, looking for ways to make this VA house of ours attractive, welcoming, and grandchild-friendly.
I love this G.K. Chesterton quote in Theology of Home: "There are two ways of getting home. One of them is to stay there. The other is to walk around the whole world till we come back to the same place." Which one are you? The homebody who never wants to leave, like me? Or the world traveler who loves change and adventure, but breathes a sigh of relief when you finally return and walk through the door of your own house?
Discuss amongst yourselves! I'll just be in my living room, staring at those canvas images of my grandchildren there on the wall...sighing with contentment because I'm home sweet home.