My adult daughter taught me a very important lesson today. One that I wish that I had learned 33 years ago before I first lived in a foreign country.
In a Facebook post she shared, “…lately I have been enjoying the fantasy of establishing/making a house my own. One my children will grow up in and never move. One that will hold all our memories.”
I can understand her desire, since she and her two sisters moved a great deal as missionary kids. Her mom, who also grew up as a missionary kid, has always had a similar desire to “nest”.
As our children were growing up we lived in 14 different houses…some as short as two months and some for as long as seven years. They have no concept of a single home where all their cherished memories were made.
Given the realities of missionary life including changes of ministry and times of home service, their situation is not unusual.
What does this have to do with a lesson that I learned and a rocking chair? Let me tell you.
While we did not “nest” in one house for a long period of time, my wife did her best to make each house we lived in a home. Each of my children have shared with me how significant this was to them.
How did she do it?
She did it through the things we had in the home. She made sure that with each move we brought along key items that stirred up heartfelt memories for her and our children.
I often resisted…foolishly and futilely.
For example, we have been lugging around this old beat up rocking chair for years. I am literally afraid to sit in it because I fear it will collapse under me.
With every move I tried to convince her to throw it away. I never succeeded. To her that rocking chair is a non-negotiable resident of our home.
It was her mom’s rocking chair. In it my wife’s mom rocked each of our children and their cousins when they were babies.
Later, it became our chair and we have rocked our grandchildren in it. It is a key twig in my wife’s “nest”.
Another twig involves hanging pictures as soon as possible after every move. After moving refrigerators and couches the last thing I wanted to do was hang pictures.
“I want to rest. I’ll get to the pictures in a few days when I feel better”, I would tell her.
She knew, however, that it was the pictures on the walls, not the refrigerator in the kitchen, that made our house a home.
What did I learn today that I wish I had known 33 years ago?
Even though we do not have a house that we can look to as our “nest” where all our memories are held. We still have many “artifacts” around us that remind of the best moments in our lives.
Instead of looking at everything from a practical standpoint, I should have been more supportive of her efforts to nest though the “rocking chairs” of our life. I no longer complain (very badly) when I carry the rocking chair through the front door of a new home.