Home, with the scuffs and marks on the walls but also the memories of laughter and hugs. I love how Helen Murray gives us a picture of home, with the sentimental clutter and prized possessions that symbolize loving relationships. This is home, and you’re very welcome to kick off your shoes and relax. Just as you are.
I am at home today. No need to go out until the school run. My kind of day.
I like being at home. It’s my refuge. I’ve lived here a long time and we know each other well, my home and me. I love the reminders of living that are all around me. I love that from my bed I can see our church tower and that I can hear the children in the playground of the local infant school. I used to sit out in the garden and try to discern the voices of my daughters when they were little. I love the sunrise through the bedroom window, the afternoon sun on the living room sofa, the moonlight through the roof windows on the landing.
Yes, it’s a place of endless loads of washing, tidying, meal preparation, but it’s a place of relaxation and unwinding. It’s a place where there’s great satisfaction to be had when the bathroom is sparkly clean and even greater frustration that it needs doing all over again in a matter of weeks! (Obviously, I mean days).
It’s also a place where Wednesday night means The Great British Bake-off (with cake) and Saturday nights mean pyjamas and a family film and not bothering that the day’s mascara is in a different place from whence it started.
Home is a shoes off, slippers on kind of place. A ‘put the kettle on and have a biscuit’ kind of place. A ‘there’s a knack to flushing the downstairs loo’ kind of place.
It’s full of sentimental clutter, pebbles from the beach, photographs and craft creations from the children’s tiny days.
I attach meaning to the smallest things; even those little black marks where the rotor blades left by poor driving of the remote control helicopter that had us all laughing until our sides ached one Christmas.
Books upon books, an army of ceramic penguins, far too many aloe vera plants. (They will keep having babies, you know, and I cannot bring myself to discard a single one. End of year teacher presents? Give ’em a vera. Thank you? Donation to the church fair? You guessed it). This is their home too.
There’s history here. This has been my home since my Mum brought me from the hospital. I left it to go to university and for a bit of a wander, and then came back after my Dad died and we built a granny flat for Mum. It’s different enough for my husband to feel that it’s his house and not someone else’s, but the same enough for me to find myself reaching for a light switch that is no longer there, or forgetting that a door is now hung the other way.
It’s an old home of memories; both joys and sadnesses. I left this house on my Dad’s arm to marry my love and the neighbours took photographs as we climbed into a Rolls Royce with ribbons.
In this house we celebrated my first pregnancy and then we grieved its loss a few short weeks later. Right here in this house my Dad gently felt the wonder of a healthy baby’s kick – and here my heart broke when he died in his armchair a few days before she was born. We planted rose bushes with beautiful yellowy peach flowers that Mum had in her wedding bouquet. They’re called ‘Peace’.
Yes, tears have been shed here. Here we have shouted and stamped and sulked. But we have laughed and we have hugged and we have cared for each other here.
It’s a place where my favourite biscuits appear in my kitchen because my 85 year old Mum puts them there. A place where she teaches my daughters how to make buns using the weight of an egg and how to lick the spoon clean. Another generation of children now forget to wipe their feet just as we did, scuffing the paintwork and chipping the plaster with toy helicopters. This is a place of too many remote controls, hairbrushes lost and borrowed and snatched back, mysterious intermittent wifi and rice krispies under the kitchen table.
Home is where I can join Mum for a sandwich and a lunchtime TV quiz then go back to work with my husband in the afternoon. It’s where my girls flop on Grandma’s sofa after school and get evasive when I ask about homework. They come with their triumphs and disasters and find chocolate in the bowl on the counter and never doubt their welcome. Mum always has a spare pint of milk when I’ve run out and can be counted on to know the likelihood of rain and the wisdom of putting the clothes out on the line.
Home is where your people are; my people are here, and for that I am thankful.
Home is day-to-day stuff. Routine, familiarity, predictability. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
This is a season of bustle and busyness, exasperation, mess, alarm clocks and laundry and loving three generations all together. I try to take each day as it comes. Nothing lasts forever, and I am keenly aware of how fast the weeks and months and years fly by. These days will be gone before I can blink.
So I sit here with my fingers on the home keys of my keyboard. I can hear the whistle for the end of playtime at the school my kids don’t go to any more. There are woodpigeons in the garden and the sun is streaming through the kitchen window onto the row of aloe versa – they look a bit thirsty. Mum is having her morning coffee on the bench near the roses and my husband is working on his accounts. There is so much that needs doing, but this is my writing day.
This is home.
Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum. She blogs at Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and is working on her first novel. It’s been a while since there was much progress, but she hasn’t given up.