Can you picture your childhood house? This was mine from age 0-26, in Villa Park,IL. When my parents bought it, my dad said, “Mary, this is going to be your dream house.”
Actually, my mom dreamed of a house with a big front porch like the one she grew up in. But year after year she filled that Villa Park kitchen with snacks and homemade pizza.
The house smelled like Folgers coffee, and sounded like Oldies music, talk radio, or the vacuum cleaner. There were rituals upon rituals in that house – rhythms we counted on and looked forward to.
Texas sheet cake for every summer birthday party in the yard. Easter baskets in the kitchen; cinnamon rolls in front of the Christmas tree; ice cream cones on the swing set after supper; Sunday coffee with all the aunts, uncles and cousins in the dining room after church.
How many pork chops came out of that oven? How many family devotions did we read around that oblong kitchen table after supper (every night)? How many times did she say, “Did anything special happen at school today?” The answer was always no, but we heard the question every day.
All our play happened in that yard and the basement, depending on the season. Mom made us homemade Cabbage Patch dolls. She made sure we had paper for drawing and writing (and she saved our drawings and stories). She let us keep our treasures in a junk drawer in our closet.
How would you have described your home as a teenager? As a teenager, I may have told you that our house was boring. But I knew it was strong and safe and whole.
The culture of belonging in that house drew me back to it again and again as a young adult – like a moth to the porch light. It attracted me with love and laughs. It was where I wanted to be. Today, news about the increase in loneliness and disconnection in our communities is everywhere, and so are all the ways to cope and numb that type of pain.
That house was faithful scaffolding around a fragile little person like me. The scaffolding is down now. I am built. I am a middle-aged woman, a mother and a wife. It was not the house of course. It’s the culture of faith and love and joy my mom created there. It was her greatest work of art, crafted day after day after day. The dream house. No day was wasted, and none of her effort was wasted. Happy Mother’s Day, mom.
For all of us parents who are in the thick of creating a culture of faith and love and joy in our houses – no day is wasted!