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 moment 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. So, I set out to do what I’d watched my mom do when I was growing up.
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. I started all over again, eager to make it a warm and welcoming home. Over the next six years, Hannah 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 now calls 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.
There were sleepovers and broken hearts. Piano lessons and picking battles. And eventually college visits and graduation. Thirteen years and an empty nest later, we’re still in that same house.
Looking back, I can see what was unfolding behind the scenes while I was busy cultivating home.
The Heart Behind Cultivating Home
Learning to Appreciate the Ordinary in Cultivating 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.
Creating a Safe Haven
Tears quietly rolled down my cheek as we sat in the counselor’s office with Hannah. The words “It’s my fault” swirled around in my mind as I grappled with what the counselor told me and my husband.
My mind went back to our first house when I screamed at Hannah from the top of my lungs 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 realize my baby girl didn’t feel safe. That may have been my first lesson in how vital the atmosphere of the home is .
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 for Hannah.
Cultivating Home Provides Opportunities for Personal & Spiritual Growth
Yours, not necessarily theirs. As Mister Rogers put it,
“Having children gives you a second chance to grow.” Fred Rogers in the movie Mister Rogers Neighborhood
He 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 depression I’d been ignoring for years. And that’s only the beginning of Hannah helping me become who I’m created to be.
Changing the Narrative
“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 couldn’t function in any capacity. So, after quitting my job, I started taking better care of myself.
As a result, I finally confronted the dysfunction in my marriage and took a stand against behaviors and beliefs that had gone on for generations before us. 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 be a better role model and change the narrative for my girl.
Instilling Values and Beliefs
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 (read repeat, lol) to 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. 🙂
I watched Hannah do the same thing. And as much as I wanted her to become her own person, I was so afraid college would undo everything we tried to instill in her.
She’s three years into her college career, and I couldn’t be more impressed with the thoughtful, compassionate, and wise woman she’s become.
This Summer, she’s moving into a new apartment and she can’t wait to make it feel like home. Just like I did and my mother did before me.
Leaving a Legacy
As you watch your family take their place in this world, you’ll notice a ripple effect. It turns out cultivating home influences more people and creates more change than we could ever imagine.
I guess I was doing something big all along.
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For more posts in the Cultivating Home series, read:
- The Power of Having a Weekly Family Night
- Loving Your People Through Life’s Transitions
- Day of Rest
- 4 Keys to Cultivating a Home You Love
- How to Prayerfully Prioritize Life