You can read the intro to this series here!
I always tell people I live at Eyrie Park, but Eyrie Park is just a plot of land outside of an ordinary town in Texas. I actually live in a genuine College Town. The city is built around the university, the school colors fly in front of nearly every business and game day is like a sacred holiday. I have come to love living here because of all the benefits I can reap from the school without ever actually attending. Broadway plays and presidential candidates reserve our auditorium, opportunities to serve and learn and have fun are plentiful and, best of all-thousands of students from all over the world flood into my backyard and give this unsocialized homeschooler ample chances at making friends!
However, despite all the appeal of our nearby university, I have never applied to attend. Every year I ask myself if I’m meant to get a degree (I even considered it very seriously just last year) and come up with the same answer: not now. This may all seem irrelevant to the topic of staying at home. After all, I could easily live at home while going to school locally. But it’s the perspective of my university friends that makes being at SAHD even more appealing.
We often have students into our home; a large 1970’s house which shows it’s age here-and-there. We sit around the fire pit in our lovely hilly yard or gather around our
scuffed up well-loved dining table for casseroles or card games. We pile onto our big red couch for movies and coffee. We squawk late into the night over jokes that wouldn’t be as funny in the morning.
I’ve had friends look at me and tell me they don’t understand my family, but they love it. I’ve had them say I live in “a different world.” I’ve heard that I can’t relate to their lives. I’ve been told I’m “so lucky” more times than I can count. People tell me they don’t want to ever leave. They sink into our couch, mug of coffee in hand or launch out on our tree swing and somehow they are in “a different world” for an afternoon too.
There is nothing actually magical about our home. It’s not the mod-squad architecture or my mother’s propensity to decorate with things we find in the woods. It’s not my sister and her husband using our kitchen as a culinary school, constantly trying new recipes and making things from scratch I never knew didn’t grow in a bottle. It isn’t my younger siblings’ obnoxious and charming disregard for personal space. It isn’t the constant hum of the dryer or the screech of the parakeet that gets louder the louder we talk. It isn’t the way we run out of dishes after every single meal or the books that are threatening the integrity of our many shelves or the butterflies my dad has shipped from the jungle and pins into abstract art.
It isn’t our beloved six acres on which we had to fell over forty trees during the drought or the pond with the turtles that surface for cat food or the construction site in the meadow that seems like it will never be done. It isn’t The Thinking Bench or The Beck or the family of raccoons that lives on our roof.
What is it, then? I hope you’re not disappointed when I tell you that I’m not entirely sure. I know it has to do with the way family is our top priority. Eyrie Park is a theocracy (God at the head) and a our jokes about it being a commune aren’t far off, either. Food is prepared in an oven or a pot on the stove which are about the same size. We all sit down together at least once a day to enjoy a meal together, even if it’s just turkey sandwiches.
My mom has always stayed home, since she became pregnant for the first time (with my brother who is nearing thirty.) I know that’s a privilege many women do not have, but it’s also a choice. Sundays are a sabbath, we don’t work if we can help it, though my dad’s ox has often “been in the ditch” over the years. (He’s actually off on Sundays consistently for the first time ever as of a couple of months ago!) Advent and Lent brings us together every evening for the lighting of a candle, the saying of a prayer, a reading of the Word, a singing of a song. And not everyone in the family would get a call back if we had auditions for a family band. We just sing anyway.
It isn’t a perfect place, by any means. Sometimes we hurt each other’s feelings or even fight, loudly. Sometimes we shirk on our chores and don’t have any clean plates for dinner. Sometimes we’re too tired to sing after we light the candles.
Sometimes I get fed up with my lack of independence and feel like I need to drive away before I burst. That’s a real feeling, and if any other stay-at-home adults feel that way: that’s okay. Your mom probably feels the same way sometimes.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to check eleven schedules before making plans. Sometimes I wish I could buy food that comes in small packages and eat the whole thing myself. Sometimes I wish there wasn’t a line for the (cold) shower. Sometimes I’d like to arrive at church on time and not spend ten minutes looking for an empty row to accommodate us.
And yet, I work two jobs and lead a service team every weekend and hang out with friends in between despite not owning a car. And when I’m done answering phones at the office and chasing toddlers at my second job and praying with widows on Saturday mornings, I get in my dad’s car and turn the key and think, I can’t wait to get home.
Stay tuned for Part Two: Other Reasons