I’ve changed. I knew it at some level and I also knew that a lot of it has to do with age and time passing and having older children. But it really hit home when I went to Nashville for a conference in July. I began to miss home before I’d even left it. I worried about the cats and the kitten even though I knew they were in the best of hands. I worried about the garden and whether there’d be enough rain (there was – in spades). But it was more than that.
I arrived at the bizarro-world resort hotel conference complex and after a long board meeting was finally able to check in to my room. Finally, a room of my own. Quiet and basic and mine for 4 days. That was my first thought. My second was: I can’t wait for these four days to be over so I can go back home.
I used to love going to conferences because the allure of the hotel room, of being alone, of deciding when to sleep and what to do and where to go were a vacation in and of themselves. I was escaping a life that was becoming more fraught, more divisive, more depressing each day. Coming home from work should have made me heave a sigh of relief, “Finally, I’m home!” but it was the opposite. And this had little to do with the children per se. It was the knowledge that what I was coming home to was more work, scorn, everything that was not happy or relaxing or even helpful. It was more than a second job and it was the least enjoyable one.
So, getting away for a couple days was blissful apart from the travel which I always hate. So many hours wasted getting from one place to another!
These days, home is the refuge I’d always wanted. Home is where I most want to be. I missed my summer routines, my favorite chair, my first cup of coffee in the morning looking out at my neglected trees. Feeding my cats and getting ready for work. Coming home and deciding in what order I’d do things – mow first and then eat? Or the other way around? Mow at all? Harvest vegetables? Write instead? Make some art? I could do all these things or none of them. I could wash a load of clothes and vacuum at 10pm. Or I could put off until tomorrow what I was too lazy to do today and no one would make me feel guilty or less-than or sulk and stew and criticize.
This summer in particular I missed the children slightly less than the summer before. Part of that was just that I was busy. The days went by fast. I packed two vacation weeks into a three-week period – one away with the kids and one at home with a good friend. And then I was in Nashville and then I was FINALLY home and now it’s August and I have one of the kids back with the other coming home week after this coming one.
But with them or without them, there is still that good feeling. If I’m coming home to an empty house with an evening full of selfishly-driven possibility, or one with the most important people in it and I have to make dinner for three (which I almost forgot how to do) and then mow and then make sure things are picked up and put away….it’s good. It’s really good. And it’s nice to feel at home in my house.
I was going to write about KonMari and minimalism (which I have mixed feelings about) because there was an article in the paper about it (hipsters have discovered it or maybe rediscovered it – who really cares?) and how KonMariing my house helped with this whole process of feeling comfortable here and making it mine (and ours). But, clearly I didn’t get there in time. So that might be another post. Something I’ve been really bad at doing lately. I’m going to poke around in the links given in the article and perhaps share them here if they’re worth sharing. There’s something to be said about having less and my reasons are a bit different than the folks in the article but there’s also something to be said for keeping the things that spark joy, that you love, that make you happy when you see them.
Being home sparks joy. Sleeping in my own bed sparks joy. Hearing my kids thinking their thoughts in their rooms does too. Dusty came home and immediately started cleaning her room. I’ve been neglectful this summer but I also feel that I don’t need to be everyone’s maid anymore. Not to teenagers who can use magic sponges and vacuum cleaners as well as I can. Watching them grown into smart, independent people sparks the most joy. As does, acknowledging that I’ve changed and its been to the good.