I am reading a wonderful inspirational book about homemaking titled The Life Giving Home. It really gives some great suggestions for making a house a home and making sure that the home environment you have created for your husband and children is one of warmth and relaxation and unconditional love and acceptance. There is so much from this book that I want to write about. Mostly good stuff. But I’m going to start out with a post about some aspects of the book I cannot relate to.
The book emphasizes making your home warm and hospitable for everyone who comes to stay or comes to visit. Almost no one comes to stay with us and we almost never have visitors. I am an introvert, but beyond that my husband is downright antisocial. When I want to have visitors over and do something social and welcome people in, he does not want to. So if I’m creating a good home environment for my family it will realistically be one that does not have the doors open to people who are outsiders. Pleasing my husband must come first and he does not want our home to be the center of any entertaining, at least not any entertaining that he has to be a part of.
I would like to have friends over now and then and I can when my husband is not home. But when he is home or if it is a couples activity it simply doesn’t work. But my husband accepts me with all my quirks, and I need to accept him as well. The most important thing is that I create a home that is beneficial for my husband and my daughter. My husband benefits most from having a place to retreat from the world and social interaction, and so I want to create a home filled with things that he loves to do and things that he likes to look at in order to create an environment of peace for him.
Someday, if I have the pleasure of becoming part of a creative community, I would like to be able to welcome other creatives in the my home and discuss books and art. I would like to provide finger foods and nice little drinks, and make my rather extensive library available to anyone who is interested. But I don’t know if I will ever be part of such community. It is so hard to meet people. And if I ever am, for the most part it would probably be best if I attended gatherings at other peoples’ houses unless my husband gave me the okay to hold some get-togethers at our house. Making my husband feel at ease in his house, making it a place that he enjoys coming home to and relaxing in, is priority number one. Essentially, making it a home for him is vital. So that is one type of advice in this book that I personally would have to say has to be ignored for some of us. Whatever you are doing to try to make a home you have to base it upon the needs of your individual family, and my husband needs a retreat from the world. He likes to come home to his loving family, and generally speaking, to no one else.
The other thing that strikes me is all the fancy traditions that the writers of the book, a mother and daughter team, talk about as being important. Of course they suggest developing your own traditions but the amount of work and creativity and thought that goes into some of these things that they do is astounding. Some of them are easy things that I already do, like saying to read your children books. I already read my daughter books. But some of them are elaborate Valentine’s Day projects and elaborate meals and tons of decorating for the holidays. I like to decorate for the holidays a little bit. I do enjoy the holidays. But I have poor organizational skills and I don’t like to overload my house with supplies for any given holiday because then I have to cope with the anxiety of taking it all down and finding a place for it. As for fancy meals, we are people who order pizzas. I’m a horrible cook and my husband, who actually likes cooking, still prefers take out or eating out most of the time. I want my daughter to have fine memories of our meals together so I need to find a way to make them sweet and intimate without necessarily being Gourmet. I am thinking that we should make a habit of praying before meals when we eat out in public. I know about that verse that says not to pray in public like the Hypocrites but to keep your prayers private, but I don’t think that it applies to this as long as we’re praying quietly at our own table. And she and I cuddle a lot when we go out to lunch or dinner so we spend some good time together. When we eat at home I think it would be good to start eating at our lovely little dining room table more often. I want Angelica to have beautiful memories of family meals around that table.
I need to get more creative with the stuff that we do together, Angelica and I. But I am just not what you would call a Pinteresting person. Hand me a pile of popsicle sticks, construction paper, doilies, and watercolor paints and I’m just going to look at you with a confused expression in my eyes. So much of what these women suggest doing is very creative. And I consider myself a creative person. I am a poet. I write poetry all the time. And periodically I practice art. Soon I will be taking up abstract painting. But what I guess it comes down to is not that I’m not creative, but that I do not think like a child. I am not childlike at all. It’s just not in my nature. So I don’t look at kids craft supplies and think we could make this fun activity that would last all month long. I am horrible at coming up with stuff like that and to be honest I don’t really enjoy it. When Angelica gets old enough to tell me that she has developed particular interests of her own, I’m going to try to share in those interests with her so that we can bond. But as long as it’s all on me to come up with things I don’t think it’s going to happen. Plus I’m not sure how good the memories will be if we’re doing something that I actively dislike. I want to build fond memories for my daughter, but I also want to remember having a good time with her and if I have to spend hours preparing something I barely know how to prepare and making it awful at that, I feel like the memories will be marred. I feel like on some level she will know that I did not enjoy it and that I did not want to do it. Kids are perceptive that way. I’m hoping to involve her in things that I like to do, like painting and scrapbooking. I am thinking of starting a stamp collection and maybe she would want to do that. And of course like I said if there was something particular that she wants to I would be glad to do it with her. So if she decides that she wants to take up dance or tennis or softball, I will participate as much or as little as she wants. I will be at every recital and game. But I just don’t have it in me to come up with kids’ projects.
I do want to make sure though that Angelica is enjoying her childhood. I want to make sure this home is a place of joy for her as well. She has a lovely room with lots of toys and parents who adore her. Are there any memories I could make with her with my skill sets that might actually be special to her and that she would get something out of? That’s what I have to figure out and give some thought to as I go through this book. I will never be that crafty cutesy mom. I admire women who are that way but it just isn’t me. I have to design a home life where my family will grow and thrive, but I need to find a way to do it within the scope of who I am. I don’t know how to be anyone else. And it needs to be a restful haven for everyone in the family, including me.