Monday, January 2, 2017
The Art of Staying Home
"There's romance enough at home, without going half-a-mile for it; only people never think of it." -Pickwick Papers
"It is right to begin with the obligations of home, and, while these are overlooked and neglected, no other duties can possibly be substituted for them." - Bleak House
Saying that the home is a romantic place as a stay at home mom can seem like a very far stretch. Even as I tried to write this post yesterday there was literally too much noise and needs to have much of a clear thought. The duties of motherhood are not romantic, but moments can be.
I have been reading through a book for a couple of years, A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. It has taken me a couple of years because I am basically trying to work up the energy (while sometimes pregnant or with a new baby) to read about a theory of education after the kids are in bed each night. But over the last couple of months I have been getting more into the depth of the book, and I had read the quotes above in a chapter the author was writing about Charles Dickens' writings and his regard for home. This idea of home life has always been interesting to me.
When Blanche was just a baby and we lived in Arkansas we had a pretty beautiful home life. One, because I only had one baby, and two, we had very little money and stayed home or went on walks most of the time. We lived in a small town named Siloam Springs and Andrew could walk five minutes to downtown where he ran the coffee shop. There were many weeks where we maybe only drove our one car to the store once or twice and that was it. It was a "treat" to go into the bigger city and shop at target or the local health food co-op. We often went once a month to the co-op, bought in bulk, and cooked through the bulk over time with fresh produce from our garden. Yes, I said Arkansas when Blanche was a baby, not Little House on the Prairie. It is easy to romanticize our small town life. We still had long days and Andrew was often very exhausted by dinner. He rose early and normally did most of the cooking. While I helped clean and took care of Blanche. But as I now look back to that time I do see a romance to the slow life. I hung diapers every other day on the laundry line, and would often bump into my neighbor doing the same thing two spaces down in our townhouse. I made sun tea and sewed cloth wipes and burp rages. I made homemade make-up with that same neighbor friend, and we even shared dinner or wine outside the homes in our backyard space. Life was slow. Sometimes I felt too slow.
We moved to Austin for Andrew to have more of a career. And with our move to a bigger city, we have slowly lost a lot of that old life. Somethings had to leave with time. We now have three kids over one. Sometimes we found that buying things already made at Whole Foods with Andrew's discount was cheaper and more time saving than making it ourselves. But there are times when I can think I am always saving time but I'm not really using it. I told Andrew the other night while we laid in bed that him working full time as the only money maker, me taking care (feeding, clothing, bathing) three small children, running a home, and trying to live and eat in a healthy and responsible way... well there's the week. There are the days. They are full and busy with just that. But as we've come to a new year and I have had more time at home and time to think, I think its time to relearn the art of staying home.
After several slow days at home I have come to believe that staying at home is an art. There can be beauty to it, but it requires thought, motivation, and patience. When I talk about the home being romantic I don't mean sitting in my pjs watching Netflix (but for the record... anyone with a new baby and literally stuck at home... please, stay in your pjs, watch Netflix, I have been in that season many times). The romance of home is having the time to make vegetable soup while the fire is going. For Andrew to make homemade soda bread to go along with it, and for the girls to have as many marshmallows as they and their stuffed animals need. The romance of home is raking leaves and making lemonade. It is having enough time for my kids to make a hot chocolate stand out of dirt and old gardening containers in the backyard. Shoot its even just enough time to do my laundry.
Before the holidays I had a few weeks where we literally had something planned for each day. A lot of times they were just morning activities but they were still taking time, thought, and energy from me. As I have slowed down with the holidays I am seeing the need to have these reset days. Slow days always built into our lives to recharge, to become immersed in deep play at home, to do chores and just breath. The kids and I have taken many "walks to the stop sign" this week. We literally walk a ten minute walk, or they ride their bikes down the sidewalk, to the stop sign with a "kitties for sale" sign and then we turn around and go home. This is enough for them. They love this.
In the end home can feel like hell and be romantic all in the same hour. It is just life with small children. I think the more I learn this and know it to be true, the better. Because then the hellish parts don't get me down so much, and I can move forward and connect with my kids. Because that is the reason I am home to begin with, to be with my kids.