I am so glad that so many of my comments are from women that really get family ready. It’s not about being perfect all the time, so that company can come. It’s about having a home that is warm and loving, so that company will feel welcomed. A home you and your children and spouse deserve right now.
Lin mentioned how things changed after the dad of a family died. The house had been sterile and unfeeling, but when dad died, Mom changed. My dad died 7 years ago and mom changed a great deal in those years. It’s like she is trying to find herself. Some of the changes have been crazy and we have told her so and she’s changed back (the wig stage was really weird.) But she married at 18, had an invalid child at 19 and was a wife and mother for the next 40+ years. She never really got to explore the world and decide who she was. So now, she’s doing it at 60+.
Mom always kept our house clean, but as I said cluttered. She could never find anything, because she was so disorganized. She was a stickler for clean bathrooms and clean beds. My brother was bed bound and his sheets were washed daily and replaced any time he wet the bed. But her kitchen. YIKES. Mom hates to do dishes, so that was my job growing up. (And her way of punishing us. If you didn’t please her, she’d have you wash every dish she owned. Mom had a big family, she owned lots of dishes.)
I am pretty much the same way. My bathrooms are spotless and I love the smell of clean sheets, but I hate to do dishes. So we take turns cleaning the kitchen and we try and do it as much as possible as a family. I don’t want my kids to see it as a chore that is to be hated, but as fun family time. I never use it as punishment.
Now mom lives alone and eats out. When we go to her house, we just eat out. She comes here, and we eat out. We rarely ate out when I was growing up, because it was hard to find places that served food my brother could eat, so we ate at home. So that’s one change mom has made that I think is good. It keeps her social. She goes with friends or one of my cousins who lives close by. It gives her a reason to get out of bed. That and her job.
I think mom made our house so welcoming when I was growing up, because she was so isolated. We lived 1/2 a mile from the main road on a dirt road. She did not have a phone. She did not have a car. She had a child that could not walk, talk, feed himself, who wore diapers, who had to be carried. Even a simple trip shopping meant she had to get us up at 4 am. Drive dad to work (he worked two jobs most of my childhood). Go shopping. Take dad lunch. Take dad to second job. Drive back home (about an hour drive in traffic) with a child who was tired and cranky. (sometimes two). And if dad couldn’t get a ride home, she’d have to go back out again around 10 and get him. They had it hard in those early years. We had no insurance on my brother. Dad worked one job to feed us, another to pay the doctors. Mom stayed home and babysat my cousins so that my cousins and aunts could work. They made do.
So when I became a teenager, and my friends came over, mom finally had someone to hang with. People to talk to. People who enjoyed her. She talks about that first year when I got married, and my cousin who lived with us moved out. She about drove me crazy calling, but I realize now she was the one going crazy. They’d moved to a new farm, and she didn’t really know anyone yet. My brother was older and harder to get around with and she was lonely. She was the exact same age I am now.
These days, she’s the social butterfly. She works, she hangs out with friends. I am happy for her. She’s more than paid her dues. She made our house family ready at all times. Sure it was messy and cluttered, and she could never find where she put anything. But it didn’t matter. It was a sanctuary.
In the 40+ years my parents were married, they only had two children. Mom had one miscarriage. But they helped raise (some full time, some for a few months) countless numbers of my cousins and several of my friends who needed a place to stay for a few weeks or months. Mom and Dad never turned away anyone who was hungry. Mom always cooked for one more than was expected, so if someone showed up with a friend there was enough. They expected everyone who ate there to be working. You either worked on the farm or outside the home, but you had to be employed in some way.
Mom could make a pallet the floor and sleep twenty. She always had home made blankets and never complained if my friends stayed the night. They never allowed drinking or foul language at their house, but if you needed a place to stay, you were welcome. On Sundays, you went to church. You weren’t asked if you were going, you just went.
When my dad died, my husband did the eulogy. He talked about homes in the depression that would have a mark on the fence post where hobos knew they could get a bite to eat. He said my parents home must have had one of those marks. There wasn’t a dry eye in the funeral home and as I looked around I saw heads nodding. They were the heads of people who had stayed with us for a day, a month, a year, most of their childhood.
My mom and my dad got family ready. They understood it. They lived it. Mom rarely fed under ten people each night of my childhood. There was always enough. I don’t know how they did it. Had they chosen to not opened our home they would have had nicer things, they wouldn’t have had to worked so hard. But mom and dad stored up treasures in Heaven.
As their child, I rise up and call them blessed.
Filed under: Genealogy