If you’re grown weary from creating a home for your family, or find yourself daydreaming of doing something (anything) else, I feel ya sister. But, don’t give up. It turns out there’s so much more to creating a home than meets the eye.
The Art of Creating a Home
I used to think I was called to something big. Bigger than I could possibly imagine. Actually, I thought I was destined to follow in Oprah Winfrey’s footsteps. Not as a talk show host, but as a change agent, a thought leader…someone with incredible influence.
Then, on September 17, 1998, Hannah Elizabeth Hines was born into this world. That six-pound-twelve-ounce-nineteen-inch bundle of baby girl changed me from the minute I saw her. It was indescribable love at first sight.
From that moment on, my biggest desire was to create a loving, nurturing home for my girl.
How Can You Make Your Home a Place of Love and Happiness?
I was eight months pregnant when we moved into the townhouse where Hannah was born.
This was my first time to set up a home and I was determined to make it a place where Hannah could explore, learn and grow. I can still see Hannah asleep on the kitchen floor in the middle of all the Tupperware she’d pulled out of the cabinet.
When Hannah was two and half, we bought our first house, and I started all over again, eager to make it a warm and welcoming home. Over the next six years, she started preschool, made new friends, and learned to ride a bike. We also hosted several birthday parties in that tiny house.
We moved into the house Hannah thinks of as her childhood home about a month before her eighth birthday. I painted her bedroom, got her a new bed, and found a home for all her toys.
Over the years, there were sleepovers and broken hearts. Piano lessons and picking battles. And eventually college visits and graduation.
Looking back, I can see the hidden art of creating a home; all those behind-the-scenes happenings being woven into our home story, strengthening my efforts where I was weak.
Learning to Appreciate the Ordinary Tasks of Creating a Home
I know we get tired of the daily routine.
Cooking, cleaning and carpool starts to feel mundane, boring, and even pointless. Well, picking up the kids from school isn’t pointless. 😉 But I promise you, the routines you create matter.
Children, and even adults, thrive on predictability. The structure of household routines provides that. It’s like covering your family with a warm blanket.
Discovering What it Means to Have a Happy Home
I spent so much time cleaning, organizing and decorating in an effort to create a loving, happy home life, I missed the point. That’s not to say there wasn’t happiness, but our household wasn’t as peaceful or calm as I strived or hoped for.
I didn’t quite realize the effects of that until Hannah was eight-years-old.
Tears quietly rolled down my cheek as we sat in the counselor’s office. The words “It’s my fault” swirled around in my mind as I grappled with what the counselor shared with me and my husband.
My mind went back to our first house when I screamed at Hannah for scribbling all over the wall. I could still see her small body cowering under the thunder of my voice. That image haunts me to this day.
Then, I thought about how often my husband and I fought in front of Hannah.
It ripped my heart into pieces to think my baby girl didn’t feel safe.
As an adult, I’ve learned just how invaluable feeling safe is in our lives, starting in childhood. A sense of safety helps our family blossom and become who they are created to be. Without it, our growth is stunted.
I couldn’t leave things like that.
Realizing Opportunities for Personal & Spiritual Growth
“Having children gives you a second chance to grow.” Fred Rogers in the movie Mister Rogers Neighborhood
Fred Rogers couldn’t be more right. All those hard times with your children aren’t just shaping them. One day you’ll look back and see all the ways you grew, too.
If I hadn’t watched my baby girl face anxiety and OCD head on, I never would have sought help for the anxiety depression I’d been ignoring for years. And that’s only the beginning of Hannah helping me become who I’m created to be.
That girl’s presence has been like a crown being held above my head, calling me to ruse up into it.
Changing the Narrative
Eventually my eyes were opened to the dysfunctional patterns and behaviors we were unwittingly perpetuating in our household. As I set out to course correct, I also had to swallow my pride and apologize.
“I want to talk to you about something.”
“Okay.” Hannah answered.
“When you were little, I yelled at you at the top of my lungs. I’m afraid it affected you, and I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay Mom. I don’t even remember it. You were a great mom.”
That wasn’t the only time I self-corrected. During Hannah’s middle school years I completely broke down. As in, I couldn’t function in any capacity. That led to me quitting my job and ultimately taking better care of myself.
As a result, I finally confronted the dysfunction in my marriage and challenged ideals and beliefs passed down through the generations. (The same ones that led to all the fighting Matt and I did in front of Hannah when she was younger.)
I was determined to change the narrative and create a more peaceful home.
Influencing Our Children
After eighteen years in the classroom, I can tell you with absolute certainty you have the greatest influence on your child. Year after year, I watched children:
- take on your opinions
- pick up your mannerisms
- pay attention to (read repeat, lol) what you say
- sense when something is wrong at home
- notice how you treat yourself and others
- and adopt your beliefs
In other words, they’re picking up what you’re putting down. 🙂
One example in particular stands out above the rest.
After noticing Hannah hadn’t touched her lunch, I encouraged her to eat. She said, “I can’t. I have to lose weight.” She was four years old.
From that moment on, I changed my inner and outer dialog about body shape and size.
Happening Upon Intentional Living
I don’t mean to dwell on the negative. And I take comfort in knowing I was doing my best at any given moment. It was in these moments that the veil would lift, and I would get a glimpse of the full picture. What it all amounted to.
Something about that vision woke me out of the fog that can be motherhood, homemaking and marriage and stirred a desire to be more intentional.
For me, that could only happen by trading in the hamster wheel for a slower pace and putting a stop to wandering aimlessly, either from repeating history, blindly following the crowd and/or not being aware.
Intentional living required me to dig deep, find my voice, and pursue a new way of life. It meant being more thoughtful, considerate and purposeful.
It was hard.
But, two things I can tell you for sure are:
- It’s even harder to stay miserable and stuck.
- Intentional living will fill your cup.
- Running the race is worth every minute.
Leaving a Legacy
As you watch your family take their place in this world, you’ll notice a ripple effect. It turns out creating a home influences more people and creates more change than we could ever imagine.
I guess I was doing something big all along.