When we first got married I suppose I "set up housekeeping". I hung some pictures on the wall, made a pretty display on the bar of the kitchen in our apartment, and planted some flowers on our patio. I enjoyed "decorating" our home. I got us set up to live there, that's for sure. I decided where the extra sheets would be kept and where the glasses would go in the kitchen. But I don't think I ever really understood what it meant to set up housekeeping or to establish our household. And why should I have? I wasn't going to be there all that much anyway.
I think things would have been a LOT different if I had planned from day one to be a homemaker. I remember wishing that it was still the expected norm. I remember thinking that after Sweetheart was born as well. I wished everyone just expected me to stay home and the thought of returning to work would horrify them. Then I would have no choice. Yep, you heard me right. I didn't WANT all these choices that we have! I would read stories of couples from back in the 50's or 60's where they had to scrape to get by, but never was it a thought that the wife would get a job outside the home! Man, I longed for those days.
But that isn't how things were for us when we married in 1993. I had a job--a good one--and S. was in the Navy. What would I do all day since we didn't have kids? So of course I worked. And I enjoyed my job. And we got used to home being a pit stop.
We ate out all the time. We went out for entertainment. If we had the whole day ahead of us we always asked the same questions, "Where do you want to go today? What do you want to go do?" Staying home was like punishment. Who wanted to do that? You stay home when you are sick, or the weather is really bad, or you have a lot of chores to do. So....basically staying home is a big ol' drag!!!
Having children really didn't change our feelings on being home much. We did find ourselves at home more often because of nap schedules and bedtimes, but other than that we still really weren't there that much. I remember we moved into our 2nd house in February. We got up and left the house by 6:30am and returned in time for dinner. On weekends we went places or did chores. It was 3 full months before school was out and I found myself home during the days. Do you know what I discovered? Our backyard was GORGEOUS in the mornings!!!! I had never seen the backyard or heard the birds singing because we were never ever home.
Have you lived that way? Over the last year I have discovered the joy and beauty of staying home with my family. It did take some adjustment for both me and the girls...but we are content at home now. We have our fun right here within these walls. We eat our meals here. (Mostly--I do love eating out. Sigh.) When Sweetheart was little she would spend the first month of the summers (when I was off) asking each morning, "Where are we going today Mama?" She just didn't know what to do when I said, "nowhere." Every day of her little life she was either headed to the sitters or Grandma's house or on errands. But we have learned how to be home now.
We still go places--but we go as a family. It's not just about the physical place we call home, but about our family being the center of our world. We enjoy doing things together and we don't feel the NEED to have plans made and people around us all the time. If our family were stranded somewhere, we would be fine. Our home is where our family is. No longer do I expect to live in one place my whole life. Our little family can pick up and go anywhere the Lord leads because we have learned how to be happy with each other's company. Where we call home really isn't the issue.
This really isn't a revolutionary concept. I understand that. Farm families from years past survived and thrived with just each other for miles around. I read a blog recently of a woman who said they used to live 2 hours from any town. That made her think twice before hopping in the car for just anything! Everything is just so convienient for us--no wonder we run around too much. I think we need to start living like we are in the middle of nowhere and see if that finds us home and content more often!
For our family, learning to stay home and put family at the center of our world has just been another revision God has made. So how about your family? Do you enjoy staying in together or go more than you'd like? Here are some thoughts from Rev. Miller from over 100 years ago:
Secluded by the world, sheltered by it's own roof, containing in itself the sources of happiness and not dependent upon the outside world for it's gladness and joy, it matters little whether it be day or night, whether it be calm or stormy, without. The true home has a peace that is not broken by earth's tempests. It's love is a fountain of blessing that does not waste in summer weather, and it's happiness and blessing in household life are simply incalculable. All that is needed is that each member faithfully do his own part.
--from the book Homemaking by J.R. Miller