Home. What is home? The dictionary defines it as:
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
These definitions have many interpretations. Ask almost anyone for their favorite quote about home, and you’ll get a wide variety of answers. “There’s no place like home”, “Home is wherever I’m with you”, and “Home is where your heart is,” are a few that immediately come to mind for me. You probably have one yourself. Maybe it’s painted and hung above your couch or printed and framed beside your bed. Perhaps it is just stamped in your memory like a little imprint. Home can and does mean something unique to everyone.
My family is currently searching for a home.
A couple of months ago, we were faced with a big decision. My significant other was offered a job. We had to choose to keep an over-worked, exhausted Daddy and a happy bank account OR accept an over-worked bank account and a happy Daddy. We made the tough choice of agreeing to live with less means, in exchange for more family time. Two short years prior, we made a similar decision. We agreed to pick up and move our lives for more income. I’ve finally just now started to feel settled here in Iowa City. I (kind of) know my way around. I see familiar faces at the grocery stores we frequent. I have almost met everyone in our neighborhood. I have started to make good friends in our play date groups. Iowa City has grown on me a lot, just in time to pick up and move again. While we won’t be leaving the area, we’re going far enough from Iowa City that all of our current relationships will face the inevitable factor of distance, change. Fearful and more than a little hesitant about our new future, we were off to Cedar Rapids/Marion to begin the stressful search of house hunting (with a curious toddler). Mix that with the disappointment of a couple rejected mortgage loans and a lease expiration date rapidly approaching, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for one incredibly tense and tired family, and one family member in particular: me.
I do not do well with the unknown. I am a planner. I need to know future plans in order to adjust accordingly. How much stuff should I downsize? Will I need these things at the new house? Do I need to get mentally prepared to be crammed into a tiny apartment? Are we going to have a garage, or will we need to find a storage shed? Can we host our daughter’s birthday party at our home, or will I need to rent a space? When should we reserve a moving truck? So on and so on.
With less than three weeks until our official move out date, we left yet another viewing that didn’t seem like the right fit. I plop myself down in the passenger seat of our car feeling defeated and overwhelmed. I want to crawl into my bed and not think about moving for another second. It is a reality I no longer want to face. I just want it over. No more looking, no more uncertainty. All I want is a home. I let out a long, deep sigh. Dale reaches out for me and takes my hand. Our daughter is strapped into her car seat singing in the back. Dale asks if I’m ready to go home. Fighting back tears I want to scream at him about how we don’t have a home. When I look up to respond, my eyes meet his, and like a flash of lightning, it hits me: I am already home.
We may be tirelessly searching for a place to live, but home is not a place. It is a feeling, and it can be found anywhere. Anywhere in the presence of those you love. We have had a home all along, sitting right beside each other on this search in our car, and we will take our home anywhere we go together. A tiny apartment or an over-priced house or a cardboard box cannot, and will not, stop us from being a family. It sure as sin won’t stop us from loving one another. We will still enjoy meals in each other’s presence and stay up too late watching tv marathons. We will continue to hold hands and read bedtime stories. We will still work, play, sleep, laugh, argue and grow. The walls may change, but our hearts won’t. Wherever we may end up living, we will be home. When we find our perfect or not-so-perfect house, I will wake up to the two most special people in my life and I will click my heels three times while I remind myself, “There’s no place like home”.
Has your family ever gone through a particularly stressful move? How did you cope with the changes? Or share your favorite home quote!