There’s a blog post making the rounds that’s gained a lot of buzz. In it, Glennon Doyle Melton makes an admirable case for her non-updated kitchen and not going into debt to renovate it with the trendiest, shiny-new everything reflected in the collective narcissistic pursuit known as “trying to keep up with the Joneses.” It’s also a brilliant tribute to being grateful for what we have. And her “big reveal” is the best ever.
Kudos to this woman for knowing exactly what’s most important to her, and for decrying people’s tendency to overspend on the wrong things. She’s clear on who she is, what she wants for her family, and she’s not willing to compromise any of that for peer-pressured pretty.
I get it and I salute her.
When my children were small, life was a cacophonous mess a lot of the time. But by nature, I lean toward order — a place for everything and everything in its place. With the advent of parenthood I had to learn to add the word “eventually” in front of “in its place.” And I didn’t mind it a bit. The years of raising children are precious, and they’re gone in the blink of an eye.
To assuage my discomfort when the chaos multiplied, I’d simply remind myself that “a messy house is a sign of a good mother.”
But … I was and remain extremely sensitive to my physical surroundings. I not only need a sense of order, but specks of beauty, good light, interesting textures and good functionality — for starters. My space needs to resonate with and reflect my soul. Anything dirty or dingy or piled up or scattered everywhere — anything just plain unattractive to my eye — can bring me down, up my anxiety, and exacerbate fuzzy brain.
So in the midst of motherhood, I made time to “pretty things up.”
Our first kitchen was tiny but extremely functional — and bland. With precious little wall space in there, I could afford to paint bold colors that gave me a smile when the spaghetti sauce landed on them. That small bit of grass green color (yes, I did that once) took center stage; somehow the almond electric stove, permanently stained sink and peeling-varnish cabinets weren’t so apparent.
I made my bedroom into my haven. By today’s sometimes over-the-top standards, it was nothing. Money was tighter than tight, but I found a discount fabric shop, purchased some gorgeous material, and sewed my own lush bedding. The room was large and long, and I didn’t have much furniture. I splurged on a clearance-priced headboard, angled the bed out from a corner and placed a trunk at the foot as a bench. I draped the top of the dresser (my ex-husband’s college years hand-me down) in antique linens passed down through my family. I covered my great grandfather’s rocking chair seat with fabric to complement the bedding. I framed and hung crewelwork and cross-stitch pieces I’d handcrafted before children came on the scene. The room was simple but pretty and mine in the days when life was crazy-busy and focused on the little people.
Time spent in my bedroom was mostly devoted to sleep, but to return to that spot of lovely at the end of the day, to awaken to its calm state, to admire its completeness when I made the bed each morning — fueled me for everything in between.
Because I was a single parent, my kids learned early on that to “get to the fun stuff” everyone had to chip in with their share of chores.
One standard in our household was that as soon as you could look into the washing machine and see the bottom of the tub you had earned the privilege of doing your own laundry.
I can’t tell you what a game changer that was! Luckily, genetics were on the kids’ side: neither has ever had any height advantage. It took a while for each child to get there, but I’m aware they learned this skill at ages some would find appalling. It worked for us.
In my mind, there was no either/or; I could raise my children and have a home that I enjoyed aesthetically ... in between and around all the messes, of course. Conscientious, loving parenting was always the priority.
And as the kids grew older and more independent I had more discretionary time — though rarely money to match — to indulge my love of design. More importantly, my children got to see their mom flex her creative muscle, express herself artistically, make magic on no-budget, and create home interiors that made everyone feel good.
One snowy, housebound Sunday afternoon got me itchy to create something. The result was a painted, one-of-a-kind coffee table my son immediately dubbed “Planet Mom.” That moniker delighted me; my son got me — as his mom, and as a creative being. And, for better and worse, that table and a quirky companion to it became conversation pieces for years.
Home means different things to different people.
For me home is a combination of the physical place, the people and lives lived within it, and an emotional frame of reference. In our family, we nurtured all of those.
Honoring what my soul yearned for beyond my children filled me up in ways that enabled me to give more to them. I’ll even wager it made me a better mother.