I love looking at houses. I could spend days and days perusing neighborhoods and looking into lamp-lit living-room windows. I know, sounds more like a Peeping Tom, but it’s true. The warm friendly glow from those windows is somehow reassuring that someone is home, and some people are longing to be there. For years, I thought that to have the perfect home, I had to have the perfect house, but then I grew up and realized, what’s perfect?
For years I’ve driven everyone within earshot crazy about how the house should be kept. “Why isn’t this put up? Why didn’t you clean up your mess? Who left their shoes in the middle of living room so I could trip and die?” Does any of this sound familiar? Now I’m not home for the length of hours I previously was, and I can’t help thinking, what the heck was all of that about? It didn’t make my life any easier, and it certainly didn’t make anyone around me happy. So much for the reassuring glow coming from our living room windows. If I’m not careful our house could just be a place to clean and sleep, when what we want is a home.
Because of that, my idea of a dream house keeps changing. Since there really is no such thing as a self-cleaning home, I’ve found that the McMansions that I longed for in yesteryears would be a nightmare for me because unless we hit the jackpot or 4Gaby goes international with tours (hey, help a girl out here), I’m the numero uno who gets to do the majority of the cleaning. Who wants to clean a house for 16 hours on the weekend instead of enjoying family? For goodness sake, I know there are days I’d love to hop in the car and drive till the gas gauge hits empty, but surprise, I really do love my family and I’d like to be with them doing something a little less mundane. I’m not talking hang gliding, but days at the park are a treasure, as opposed to days in our yard.
Our yard is a complete monster! Having privacy between neighbors comes with a back-breaking price tag called yard work. I don’t know the amount of hours my husband and I have put into our yard in the past, desperately hoping that maybe one day we’d get yard of the month. Now I honestly love yard work, it beats dusting hands down because the yard usually stays nice for a few days. I can clean the house and in the space of a few hours it can be demolished. Still, how much time do I want to spend in the yard when the kids grow like weeds and you blink and they’re gone? Um…not so much. My idea now of yard of the month is the kids laughing outside and the family together. Top that pretty committee.
The houses in the little town where I work intrigue me. There are huge plantation-like homes and little bungalows, mixed in with big and little Victorian treasures, and I love walking by them at lunch. I go through a mental checklist; too big, too small, huge yard, needs lots of work, lovely garden, and just right. Every morning I drive by the same houses on my way into work and one little Cape Cod always has its lamps lit in the downstairs windows and I find that somehow comforting yet again. I guess it’s because each house should have its own glow.
By the day’s end, I pull down my own driveway to my messy, tangled yard and walk into a living room way too full of an overly energetic 5-year-old’s toys. I pass by my teen’s bedroom on the way to throw my work clothes into the laundry room and I know it will take a shovel to find the floor in her room. I come back down the stairs and look at a dining room table seldom used and round into the kitchen to fix supper, and then it hits me. We’re around the table, my daughter babbling about her day, my son vying for attention by making ridiculous faces and my husband looking at me with a distinctly glazed and tired face. We bow our heads, say a prayer, and tuck in. We get up together and clear the dishes and the kids go play. Either my husband or I will get our son down for the night, and then we discuss what’s on the agenda for the next day.
We’re home; it’s a safe place where we come together, sometimes in chaos, sometimes in peace. We’re tucking in to make it work, praying and bowing our heads when we’re smart enough to realize we have a house to come home to and be together in. No, it’s not perfect and it never will be. But there are those fleeting moments, now and again where we go “Ahhhhhh.” Be it ever so humble, with or without its lamp-glowing room, there’s no place like home.