In case you haven’t had a chance to read the first one, you can read the first post in the series here – Home is Where the Heart is – Part One
I had most of this part of the Home is Where the Heart is series already written when I sat down to edit and add to it yesterday afternoon. As I worked on it, I hated it though. So, I deleted it and am starting fresh.
Originally, I detailed the good memories I had with my family in my childhood homes. I wanted desperately to convey the fact that while I have painted a picture of a rough childhood, I also had many fond memories. There is no doubt that my childhood was filled with dysfunction and uncertainty, but there was another constant – our homes were always filled with laughter, music, learning, and most importantly – love. Despite their addictions and short comings, I never ever doubted that my parents loved me. Even though they seemed to sometimes choose their addictions instead of choosing to do something that would make our lives better, we were never without a roof and food and clothing; we were never without encouragement and understanding; we were never without the fundamental thing that makes a parent a parent – and that was love.
I cannot recall a time when I wondered what I was going to eat, nor a time when dinner wasn’t on the table for us each evening. We may have gone without hot water a time or two, but there was always soap and a way to bathe, even if it was by heating water up on the stove. I may not have had name brand clothing, but I always had clothing, and that clothing was always clean. I never had to deal with not having the school supplies I needed to learn. There was always a bookshelf to find reading material, and there were music lessons – both history and instrument education – no matter which parent’s home I was in. There was always time to sit down and work through any issue I may be having – whether it was understanding a math problem, or something more complex as I dealt with teenage angst and Aaron dealt with navigating life with autism. My parents did the best they could with what they had to give us. We were cared for, we were encouraged to learn, and we were loved.
Despite the fact that I grew up with a lot of uncertainty due to my parents addictions, despite moving eighteen times before I was twenty years old, I grew up knowing that no matter what I always could rely on my parents to be there when shit got rough. I knew that we wouldn’t do without. I knew that there were always four walls and a roof where I could sleep safely. And honestly, I know people that had ‘normal’ childhoods – without parents fighting addiction, who didn’t live in poverty, who had whatever their heart desired – but couldn’t rely on their parents for a goddamn thing when it came to emotional support. Now as adults, the only thing they can count on is a check if they fall on hard times. They don’t have a shoulder to cry on, they don’t have someone to lean on when shit gets rough. They were thrown gifts and money and things to keep them entertained. . . but they can’t go home if they need somewhere to stay.
Sadly, my parents are both gone now – so really, I can’t either. I have zero doubt that if they were alive though, that wherever they called home my children and I could call home as well if the need were to arise.
These were the things I took from my parents. Not their addictions and insecurities – I took their love. I took their love for music and their love for learning. I took the warmth of the love that they had for my brother and myself. ‘Home’ is a feeling that I know well, but isn’t easily conveyed in words. It was in walking into either of my parent’s homes as an adult and walking to the refrigerator because even if I had the same food in mine, I knew that I was welcome to theirs regardless. It was in, “hey, I don’t have money to do laundry, can I come to your house and do it?” and knowing that the answer would always be yes. It was in the early morning calls warning me of inclement weather as I readied myself and the boys for our day. It was in funny birthday cards in the mail or a phone call at three in the morning singing me happy birthday. Trailer or apartment or house, it was ever present in the smells from the food cooking in the kitchen or the throw blanket always present on the couch or the pictures of family and loved ones on the walls. It was present in the laughter at our shenanigans or the reading suggestions or songs that played from the stereo. It was present in the freshly cleaned and folded clothes that sat on my bed each day when I came home from school, and the shampoo and soap in the shower that never seemed to run out.
And so, despite the amount of times that we moved, these things were ever constant – no matter what the walls surrounding us and the roof above us looked like. This is what I decided to carry into my own life, as I began the adventure of raising children of my own. I wanted them to know love and laughter and know without a doubt that they had their mother always there to lean on. A home isn’t the four walls that surround you, it’s a feeling.
I could have sat here and detailed the memories about the many homes I lived in as a child, but where I lived isn’t nearly as important as the feeling of home that I grew to know and love, and the fact that I have strived to bring it into my own home as an adult.
The amount of money you have or the type of dwelling that you reside in doesn’t mean a damn thing – home isn’t necessarily a place. It’s a feeling of comfort and safety, a feeling of security no matter where you lay your head down at night.
While I appreciate the fact that I always knew love no matter where we lived, I also know that staying put offers a certain stability that I was denied as a child. I’ve had to move more than I would have liked as an adult, but I’ve tried to limit it in the interest of providing that stability for my kids that I didn’t necessarily have myself as a kid. And I’ve always tried to carry the love and warmth that my parents carried with them from home to home with me.
I’m struggling with these posts, because explaining a feeling as opposed to telling a story is more difficult than I anticipated. Just another exercise that will improve my writing abilities, I suppose. As I edited this piece, I pulled parts from it that didn’t fit here, but that I thought had value. I have intentions to use these parts in the next post. For now, happy Monday – don’t search for what you need in the tangible. Often you can find exactly what you need in the intangible, in the feeling that a person or place gives you.