Home is where I’m in charge.
I’m responsible for dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and nesting. As a child, I complained whenever my mother asked me to help with housework. Now, I look back on my laziness and ignorance with sadness. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a home, and I don’t even have children. My mother had two daughters, a full time job as an English teacher (read: lots of papers to grade) and cared for her ailing mother on the weekend. She did it all. I eventually learned to help more, but I viewed it more as an inconvenience rather than active homemaking. Miraculously, I grew up, and now I take great pleasure in caring for our home and making it a haven for my family and our friends.
Now that I have my own home, I think back to my fantasies of “One day, when I have my own home I’ll...” and smile. I have dinner parties, just not as often as I would like. I have flowers on my dining room table. I’ve finally started an herb garden. I have a dog, Maggie. It’s a strange feeling to be on one’s own and realize that you have the power to create traditions. Growing up, we’d always have a special breakfast on Saturday morning--eggs and sausage, cinnamon rolls, or muffins. Now, every Saturday morning I make a special breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, and waffles. When we first married, I wasn’t intentionally trying to carry on this tradition--I just wanted to treat Kevin (and myself) to a big, delicious breakfast on Saturday. Looking back, maybe I was trying to carry over what I knew and loved from my family into my new family.
As we look forward to having children one day, I know that traditions and projects will be crucial to forming our family’s identity. For me, part of becoming an adult is the realization that I can select and reject things about my upbringing. Creating new traditions takes intention and time and effort and planning. The reward is a renewed sense of identity, time, and purpose. I’m inspired by traditions of my family and friends: Christmas cards, breakfast for dinner, going to Fall Creek Falls, road trips, homecoming parades, Sunday letter writing, Friday night movies, Taco Thursday, listening to CarTalk. I am excited and humbled by the thought of being the co-author of my family’s story. Maybe home is not my address, but a sort of bubble of traditions, vocabulary, and expectations that follows me wherever I go. As we meet other people and learn about the world, our bubbles intertwine and grow richer and deeper.
Emily Davenport happily makes her home with her husband Kevin and dog Maggie. Her current Buechnerian vocation is as a high school librarian.