Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Is a House a Home...?

What makes a home?  What makes a family?  Is the space more important or the people?  If you put the same family into a different that home now? 

These are questions I have been contemplating.  The home my children grew up in is no longer my home.  I still have some financial interest in it... but it is not my home.  I will never live there again.  Currently, for a few months, I am in Florida... so is this condo my home?  What about my house in Corning... is that a home with no one living in it?

And really, what does make a house a home?  The stuff inside?  The memories associated with a particular place?  The people congregated there?  Seriously, I am interested in your view.  

When adult children come home for the holidays --are they coming "home?"  Even though they have their own homes?  How invested are you in your family of origin home?  

My brother and his wife live in the family home we grew up in.  A few years ago they updated the kitchen.  Read that, they totally changed the kitchen and it looks nothing like what we grew up in. It is their home now and I have my memories of growing up there; I don't need the actual house to own the memories.

I know a person who understands this better than anyone I know.  She is always willing to clean out, throw out, give away 'stuff.'  I think somehow she learned growing up that stuff is not the memory.  Stuff can easily be taken from you--a fire, a flood, financial problems.  But you still have your memories.  

And seriously, how much time should we be spending looking backwards anyway?  Shouldn't we be living in the present?  Looking towards the future?  Yes, we have some great memories that we don't want to forget.  Our past creates us--all of that programming is in us today.  Are we going to  stay stuck in the past?

I am not one of those people who talk about the "good old days."  I don't post things on facebook about how my childhood was so much better because I didn't have a cell phone.  My childhood was great.  My grandchildren, I am sure, will look back on their childhood and declare it just as wonderful--cell phones in hand since the age of two.

I want to propose something here.  

"I" am home.  I create the space that is home.  I, the mom.   I, the wife.  I, the single woman.  I have been creating 'home' since I first left the house I grew up in at eighteen.  I created a home in my college dorm, I created a home in my first apartment and in my first house.  I propose that home is wherever a person creates it.

My children were all born at home.  That house has long been sold to another family and my children haven't lived in it since they were quite small.  So, do my children still have a home?  I can remember leaving that house after it was sold.  There was a bit of nostalgia, a bit of sadness, but... I was moving into a bigger, better house!  How exciting!  I was looking to the future.  And to creating a new home in a new space.

When children grow up, move out, get a job and a house of their own, where is home then?  Is it in the new space they have created or in the past, the old house that they grew up in?

How much is invested in the old and how much is invested in the new?  It seems that when we move into a new space, we start creating that space into our home.  And yes, I certainly understand  a connection to the old.  I drive by the house my children were born in and get a slight tug at my heart every time. Not enough to cause pain, but just enough to relive some happy memories.  Do I want to go back there?  No.  Do I long to walk through it again? Not particularly.  I am happy enough with my memories, my photos and even some videos--though that was not as easy as it is today, so there are less of them.

When my mom was still alive and we would go back and visit the farm where I grew up, it was home, and it wasn't.  It was home because my mom was there--and where she was, was home--that space that is family, that is love, that is unconditional acceptance. But.  It was no longer my home.  It was family and togetherness and all the feelings of my family of origin that was important to me, that is true.  By then I had created my own home, that space that is where I felt safe and loved and accepted.   

My mom moved into a trailer on the farm near the end of her life. The family farmhouse became my brother's and his wife's.  It didn't matter, I now walked into the trailer like it was home, like I had always grown up there.  Because it was now 'home.'

So it all seems like an exercise in living in the present; in letting go of the past.  Home to me is where I am.  I create the space that is home, and in my role as 'mom' that means wherever I am, is where my kids home is too--whether they have ever lived there or not.  

I would like to redefine the term 'home.'  Home is a sense of belonging.  A place where one is sheltered, loved, accepted, and protected.

Maybe it all is neatly boiled down to the old adage...

"Home is Where the Heart Is."

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