Day breaks, the sun rises, the world awakes. I sit in the quiet with a hot cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of waves lapping the lakeshore and leaves waving in the gentle breeze.
My kids wake, and pull their blankets aside, asking for me to come in for a morning snuggle. My son puts his arms around my neck tight, squeezes his soft cheek to mine and holds me there longer than is comfortable but I don’t move.
My daughter asks for me next and we lay together as she tells me about her dreams the night before and what she wants to do today.
Our summer days are spent in an odd way, with little rhyme or reason, hardly a routine in sight. I work, they play, then we all play together when my work is done.
When daddy comes in at the end of the day after work, they run and jump on him with huge hugs and chatter about all the things they want to do with him before the sun sets.
Day in and day out, we have the same non-routine that makes up summer days.
The difference is that this summer, we’ve moved and left behind the only home my two kids have known and taken a giant step into the constant feeling of transition and question marks 1500 miles away.
We packed up our home, shut the door, and headed off onto a new life adventure that has taken us from the white sandy beaches of Florida to cool lake air and green farm pastures in New York.
I thought leaving home would be much harder on all of us than it has been since we said goodbye to our house of seven years.
I realize now that it’s because home came with us. Home is us.
It was a week after we’d arrived at our new destination, and I was spending my evenings scouring the internet for houses for sale or rent, trying to find us a home.
I found a piece of paper on the coffee table with my daughter’s handwriting and hearts on it. One heart said “Water + hole = lake”, the next said “Lake + cottage = Fun” and the third said “Family + Fun = Home”
I knew that in her eight-year old way, she was processing the change that our family was going through. And in those few words, she reminded me that we aren’t looking for a home now. We have our home and never left it. Home stays with you always.
I think of this as I wander through houses that are for sale or rent, searching for our next place to live. Walls and woodwork and yards and floors are not home.
It makes looking for a house easier. I find myself not-so-picky, and know that so much of what I am looking at are just comforts, not necessities.
I don’t care what the countertops look like. I don’t care if there is wallpaper. Those things don’t make or break a home.
I know that home is right here with me at the beginning and end of each day, in the people that I love and share my life with. The people who join me in whatever place we choose to live are my home. It’s not the place, it’s the people that make home what it is.
The sun sets, little feet run around trying to avoid bedtime. The kids rub their eyes; I curl up with one kid asking for me to sing songs while the other reads until her eyes can’t stay open any longer.
We listen to the waves lap against shore and the leaves rustle in the breeze. Sometimes the rain falls, lulling us all to sleep.
This place we are now is not the house we will live in, but it is home today because it’s where we all are – together, beginning and ending our days with the same love as we had yesterday and the same love as we’ll have tomorrow.
I will carry this with me always now, knowing that home could be a tent on a camping trip or a transitional cottage on a lake, or a little ranch house in Florida or an old farmhouse in New York. Home is where I am with my family and will go where we go.
What does home mean to you?