Friday, August 12, 2005

DR: What Makes a Home and Family

We moved to a new house recently—well, new to us anyway. It’s a four-year-old house in a beautiful development—a nicer, bigger house than I ever dared to dream of living in. Because, you see, I chose to spend the first twenty-five years of my adult life as a stay-at-home mom. That meant many sacrifices, most of them financial. It’s a tradeoff I’d repeat a thousand times over.

I’ve never had one regret about those years spent living in a small rental house. I found it a fun challenge to make it a cozy home for my husband and our children. But I’ll tell you the truth—four kids in a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath duplex with a shared yard isn’t always a picnic.

As the kids went off to college one by one, we were able to spread out a little and eventually our little duplex started feeling quite adequate.And then our kids started bringing friends home from college, and one friend was extra special and our daughter married him. Suddenly that duplex felt like a shoebox when everybody was home to visit. Now, a few years later, our first grandbaby is on the way and there was just no way to fit everybody in. And then God blessed us beyond belief with this house. Almost new, designed for entertaining, and amazingly, in our price range.We made the move and went to work putting the touches on this house that would make it home.

Most of the material possessions we treasure came with us. But one thing we couldn’t bring. The wall where we stood our children to measure their growth. All four of them were basketball players, so height was a thing to be prized and recorded often by their coach dad. The wall shows clearly the date when our oldest son shot past Mom’s five-foot-eight mark, and then Dad’s five-foot-ten. That wall bragged about the year our youngest son grew three inches in one summer. There were marks three feet from the floor where the tip-top of our tagalong baby’s head reached—marks lovingly recorded by her proud big sister, balancing a ruler atop the toddler’s head. There were marks near the floor for our black cat Frosty. (Do you measure a cat standing or sitting. Is his height from foot to shoulder, or foot to head?) All those roughly sketched pencil lines and occasionally accompanying commentary told a happy story. But some stories are history, and they can’t easily be brought with us to the future.

All the kids were home this past weekend. Our oldest son flew from Seattle to attend his ten-year high school reunion. His brother drove in from Iowa to see him, and his sister (carrying our due-December-grandbaby) and her husband made a nine-hour drive from Missouri. It was the first time our older kids had seen our new house and we had fun showing it off. The house performed admirably, even through a cookout for twenty-plus extended family members.

I relished sitting in church with my family Sunday. We took up almost an entire row! Then Sunday afternoon, one-by-one, they all left to travel back to the homes they’ve established. I was sad to see them go, but happy that they’ve each made a good life and have their own special homes and loved ones to go to.

I realized when the kids left that as hard as it was to leave behind the memories our little duplex held, especially the tangible memento of our see-how-I’ve-grown wall, it is not walls or windows or even heirlooms that make a home. It’s the people who live inside. And it doesn’t matter if we’re together in a cardboard box or mansion on a hill, as long as we’re together. When I woke up this morning our new house seemed more like a home because the people I cherish have graced it with new memories. God willing, there are plenty more to come.

Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and Over the Waters.


At 11:29 AM, Blogger Robin Bayne said...

Congrats, Deb! May you have wonderful years in your new home : )

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Tracy Ruckman said...

What a beautiful story. May God continue to pour His blessings upon your wonderful family!

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Jeanne Damoff said...

We have a wall like that, but the marks are all much lower. We're more like hobbits than basketball stars around here. :)

If we ever move, I plan to take a long strip of paper and record all the marks to take with me. It won't be quite the same, but I think it will be fun to compare the growth patterns of future grandchildren with their parents.

I enjoyed your interview on Lisa's blog, Deb. Looking forward to taking your track at ACFW next month. See you then.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Sarah Anne Sumpolec said...

I loved your thoughts but it goes to show you how we grow up changes our thoughts.

I moved around all the time as a kid (twelve schools by the 8th grade) so nothing ever felt long-lasting to me.

Thus, when I started having babies, I bought beautiful personalized wooden growth charts for each of them. They are attached to the wall but can be removed if we ever do move because I'm afraid that if I actually wrote on the wall, I wouldn't be able to ever bear leaving!

They work for me:-)

Congrats on the new house! Enjoy!


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