I have always been a home-bird. In secondary school when all my friends were out drinking I just wanted to be at home with a cup of tea reading a book or watching Saved By The Bell before graduating to The O.C and The Hills in my later teens. It probably made me very uncool in a lot of their eyes but I genuinely didn’t care. I knew what I liked and one of those things was the comfort of being at home. It’s something we all feel on some level.
It kind of rippled in to my adult life too. As much as I love a good night out I am usually one of the first people to leave. Not because I didn’t have a good time. I’ll most likely be wobbling out the door singing too loud after a great night. I just kind of get to a point where I crave being home. Funnily enough adults are a lot less tolerant of this than the teenagers were when I was younger. Thankfully I still don’t mind at all. Life is just too short to do what you think people expect you to do. To place that much importance on pleasing others. So I go home when I want to go home. The promise of my bed and home comforts is always the superior feeling. There is a bit of a granny in me and I kind of like that for some strange reason.
Recently Billy has started to do this thing when we are out and about. It started at the playgroup we used to go to on a Thursday. He always loved it when he was one of the youngest but with time he has come to be one of the oldest (It’s so funny to use the word old when referring to a 2.5 year old). After about thirty minutes he would run over to me looking a little bit upset and he would chant “home” in a very emphatic manner. It was somewhere between a strict request and a vunerable cry. A bit of a “take me home at once, I’ve seen enough now”. And so we left. I had tried all kinds of tricks to keep him there. My coffee had barely been sipped. I took him to his favourite toys and we joined in with his favourite friends. Nope. Nothing could keep him there. The boy wanted to go home and that is exactly what we did. As the weeks went on and this trend continued we decided to stop going to that playgroup. We had been going for over a year and in the last few weeks he had started two mornings a week at playschool so I didn’t feel guilty. We loved going for the social element and I really enjoyed it too, but he had decided that he was over it. Three hours on public transport for the round-trip was just not worth thirty minutes of play-time. The “home” thing stuck around though. Whenever we are out and he becomes tired, bored or upset he requests to be taken “home” and I just think it is so lovely. The fact that he has a sense of home at such a young age. The fact that he wants to be taken to that place he associates with comfort and security. It is a very comforting feeling for me as a mother. To know that he has a sense of this. A sense of place and belonging. A sense of family too.
As myself and Peter prepare to move house for the sixth time in a row I am thinking a lot about what it means to be home. To go home. Our first move was to an apartment. A big ordeal for us as a couple and for both of our families. I was the first child to flee the nest and my Mam waved us goodbye but I saw the tears in her eyes. She was equally delighted that I was taking this step with Peter. We had been together for three years and I was 23 while he was 28. It made sense. Our next succession of moves was for a combination of reasons. The first was due to pregnancy. We needed somewhere better than an apartment with a lift that never functioned properly. It wouldn’t bode too well with a pram and a newborn. The other moves were due to finances mostly. The Dublin rental market is appauling. After a dig out from a lovely family member who housed us for six weeks (in December for Billy’s first Christmas) we settled in a house we loved but probably couldn’t afford. We didn’t know it had the lowest energy rating on the scale. One of those things – we loved the area and had Billy’s name down in the local school and everything (a girl can dream) but the house was like an ice-box. It was also tiny and we were paying huge rent. When the rent went up by €150 if we wanted to renew a second year we just couldn’t afford it. Move five was on the cards. We loved the house we moved to (and currently live in) but it was not to be. We are moving in two weeks time and we find ourselves once again reaping the generosity of a family member. We are down-sizing BIG TIME but with that down-size comes so many positives. A downsize in rent which affords us the opportunity to save for a couple of years and finally wave goodbye to the rental market we loathe so much. It also means doing a bit of a clear-out. I’m far too sentimental and have been carrying the same amount of bags with me for years. With every move they simply move in to another corner of another house. I have adopted a somewhat ruthless approach and dumped a lot of it but have obviously kept the genuinely sentimental things. We have a lot of stuff before we even consider the mountain of things that relate to having a child.
Our new abode is a little granny flat. It’s cosy and has great storage and I am so grateful for that. We will also be close to family members that I adore and have a brilliant relationship with. Several people have told me this week how lucky I am to have the family that I have and I really know that. They are incredible and we always have eachothers backs. I just feel like my back has totally taken the mick at this stage. I owe so many favours and I will gladly return the help and support I have received through all of these moves and particularly this one.
It was a bit of a shock this time round. We expected to be here for years but it’s starting to look like a bit of a blessing in disguise as we will hopefully buy a house a lot sooner this way. We have had to be very selective about what we take with us to the granny flat and what we store (again, in a family members attic for free, see how lucky we are?). It has me thinking about stuff. Our belongings and possessions. They really are just things. Home, for me anyway, is a feeling. It’s that heightened sense of comfort and it’s the place where my mind slows down and takes a deep breath.
Billy’s life is being upheived quite a bit with this move. He is only 2.5 so he will be fine but we have to take him out of his current play-schoool, his bedroom will no longer be his bedroom and his toys will live somewhere else. He will be sharing a bed with Mammy and Daddy from now on too. We have one bedroom and have purchased a bigger bed to make it more comfortable. He sleeps with us most nights but now we will be co-sleeping indefinitely and it’ll be grand.
So what is home to me? It is a feeling rather than a structural thing. I’ve learnt that recently. The reality is that there are so many people living out on the streets who can only dream of having four walls to reside in. Any four walls. Anywhere. Home is the collection of bits and pieces and people that make your heart happy. The things that keep you safe and the place you can run to when you’ve had enough or need a strong cup of tea.
It’s been a year of many ups and downs and things that I have no control over. But what I continue to notice is that it’s the people in our lives that make us feel a sense of home. It might be walking through a park hand in hand or knowing someone is in a room nearby. That is what home means to me. I love my home and I wouldn’t change it for a single thing.