Home is my sanctuary.
I repeat this phrase to my husband when the discussion of home improvements resurfaces. Often. This is a trigger point between us.
This June marked the tenth year we have owned our current home. We have really lived in it, seven, but it is the longest we have remained in one location since meeting in 1990. Ever. Over the course of our marriage we have bought and sold three different homes; all of which I have resided in. The hubs was merely a visitor; constantly deployed.
It recently dawned on me that he and I have only lived together, day-in and day-out, for five years. We were forewarned that the military transition to civilian life would be difficult. Many of the marriages during the hubs’ flight school training, ended in bitter divorce.
And they were right. The last five years were tough.
The state of our current home is symbolic of our union. The cracks and fissures, the neglect. Over-scheduling, over compensation, constant comparing and criticizing. Always needing more. Too little time filled with distractions and insignificant things.
I happily was digital scrapbooking when the hubs tapped me on the shoulder. He had awakened early on Saturday morning; a rare event and I sat nearby as he finally rid our swimming pool of algae. When we dated I would quietly watch him take apart a car engine or create furniture from wood, chatting the entire time. Coffee in-hand, I read snippets from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families; particularly about a husband and wife trying to find resolution on purchasing a couch for their home. The husband had to have it; the wife knew they could not afford it. Our trigger point. My floors; the scenario in reverse.
And I began to use the habits to seek resolution; the symbolic floor that is the foundation of our marriage; our family, my sanctuary. The hubs had already bought the high powered floor vac, (with enough suction to pull up our floor), and a new and improved vacuum, to make things tidy and neat. But there is no peace in my sanctuary when I step over broken tile. Most weekends I long to get away; to not have to look at it.
If you cannot find sanctuary, a semblance of structure, peace and love within your own home; you fill it with something or someone else to distract you. Over scheduling. Shopping. Obsessions with appearance. Appointments. Affairs. Busy work. You will never find what you are looking for without knowing what intrinsic things make you happy. Acceptance. Significance. Understanding.
As the schedule relaxes I always find ways to fill it. After a relaxing 4th of July with family there were countless places we could go and various things around the house to complete. Honey dos. Instead, while the sons happily gamed indoors (in air conditioning), the hubs and I enjoyed the fruits of his labor. In all of the years we have owned this home we have never done this; just the two of us.
We floated in our pool. For three hours. Doing absolutely nothing. It was our very own staycation.
I gazed at the dwarf trees planted in 2009 after our fence had been blown down by the Santa Ana winds. For years they remained small and we feared they would never grow. Rarely did we remember to water them. But in the past year or so they have flowered and grown and it is this summer that they finally bear fruit.
What I seek internally is renewal. Affirmation. Intrinsic worth and the fruit of my labors. Life does not define me by: the things I own, the way I look, the people I am affiliated with or the works that I do. I must recite this in my mind often; my own personal mantra.
Sunday afternoon I sat amidst a party of people. Most times I am social, aptly maneuvering amidst varying groups in small talk. I could’ve chatted about the World Cup, Common Core or summer activities. I noted my youngest son’s discomfort as he stood on the fringes; wondering how he would fit in. We were at a large joint birthday party and he was the only child, beside his classmate, from our school. Normally I would nudge him in a forceful tone to, “Get in there!” or “Have fun!” But instead I quietly watched from a bench; in the same predicament. It was okay to not fit in. I smiled in encouragement and quietly sat.
The party host fretted that I was solo and to appease her, I grinned and made small talk. But as all things go, when established groups form and have history, sometimes it is more work to be included. Not all people are meant to get along or belong to certain groups. I insisted that I was okay and happily observed various cultural families interact with one another as I quietly read my Kindle app on my smartphone. I appreciated the well-thought out details of this unique Harry Potter themed party.
Four-and-a-half hours flew by as my son eventually joined this new group of people; alongside his friend. Occasionally I’d catch him look for me and, from time-to-time, he sat alongside on the bench. Much later I realized that being content to be alone gave my son confidence to be different and new. And being solo allowed me to observe people and appreciate the details others might’ve missed.
I returned home to the hubs, surprisingly refreshed. I remained downstairs as we chatted next to the broken tile. Slowly, our paths are becoming realigned once again. The stillness of the evening, the gentle lapping of waves against the pool tile on our weekend staycation allowed us to communicate effectively; to emphatically listen to one another.
The process is slow but we work towards a common goal. The maintenance within our four walls continues.