“What did she use this time?” The kind man who cleans my white carpets squats down to inspect the splashed rainbow.
“Acrylic and oils.” I show him the finished masterpiece displayed on the easel above the carpet’s danger zone.
He nods appreciatively, and from his arsenal of stain removers, sprays over the area what I assume is an anti-acrylic and an oil neutralizing solution.
“You must see this kind of clean-up project a lot in your business.” I think of the dropped plate of spaghetti he cleaned last time he was here.
“Not like this.” He gives the fading spot a thorough scrub. “Backed up toilets, pet stains, and shoes that should have been left at the door.”
I nod because he has cleaned all those at my house, too. And I remember when my young daughter showed me her painting. Her face had been alight with the artistic freedom that comes when her hands have translated her heart to canvass. Just as much paint was on the carpet below and as she followed my gaze, she was incredulous.
“Sorry, mom, I didn’t see that.”
Of course not. Nor did she remember to use a drop cloth the three times before. Which is how I have gotten to know the carpet cleaning guy well enough that he took one of our kittens home to his family. Like house and hearth, a female kitten is the gift that keeps giving.
Home. It’s the art studio for life. And like all art studios, it is creatively messy, reflecting developing people, talents, and relationships. There is a tension between keeping a tidy house and using the living areas for – well – living.
As the wife of a pastor, Orville and Wilbur Wright’s mother frequently entertained. She was known to announce to her guests that they would be eating in the living room since her sons had their projects spread out on the dining table. Because Mrs. Wright wisely designated space for her children to discover their world and test their ideas, the brothers turned the possibility of flight into reality. Because she gave wings to her sons long before they learned how to fly, that mother’s legacy outlives her for all of history.
In connecting and belonging, family members create, explore, grow, learn, and love. Our first lessons in giving and receiving respect, honor, honesty, and forgiveness begin at the address where attitudes are formed and faith is modeled.
Children thrive when they know Someone is crazy, head-over-heels in love with them. The greatest gift parents give to their children is a home that is synonymous with safe. Home is that beginning where roots are nourished and wings are stretched, and voices are discovered.
It feels like family.
Rich and full. Connected. Belonging. Rooted.
Creative and messy. Serious and hilariously funny. Deep and witty.
Fruits and vegetables and our famous homemade brownies
and floss your teeth and yes you can stay up fifteen more minutes.
It is a twisted ankle from stepping on a Hot Wheels in the night,
and removing the crucial Lego piece from the vacuum;
forts made of blankets, and kid-sized shovels
to dig a tunnel from the woods to house.
It’s Fur Elise played perpetually on the piano;
hot chocolate made with cocoa, honey, cinnamon, and ginger every morning;
dishes piled in the sink because no one puts them in the dishwasher;
mounds of laundry we affectionately refer to as Mt. Never-rest;
chalk on the driveway, playing dollhouse,
Dutch Blitz marathons, occasional burp-offs,
reading stories aloud, and speaking in movie quotes.
“I feel at ease,” described my daughter.
“We are a mix of Little Women and The Odd Couple,” my teenager observed.
I smile and hold the moment close. We are a family.
*Excerpt from Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After