Just last month, my son Dylan, packed up and moved into the dorm at Arizona State University. Although it’s just across town, he’s the first child to move out and it’s wrecked me up one side and down the other. I think I’ve finally stopped crying.
It wasn’t just the physical loss of his presence that made me sad, but the finality of the independence this move represented. My son’s life no longer revolves around me. Although it’s been gradually happening for years, I’m now living the reality of it. And I’m finding our time together – whether on the phone or in person, is loaded with expectations on my part.
The first weekend Dylan came home, I was overjoyed. Although it had only been six days since he’d been in the house, I wanted it to be perfect. It coincided with my birthday, and I envisioned us sitting and talking, catching up around the table. However, he was tired from a school activity the night before, which made him grumpy. When he plopped down on the couch and opened his laptop to check Facebook – instead of talking with me – I became grumpy too.
His attitude bumped into my expectations, and within a short time, all my lovely ideas of our time together dissolved into frustration and annoyance. I allowed my hurt feelings to come out in some unnecessary words, which didn’t help the situation.
We finally talked about it, and Dylan’s words shook me out of my pity-party, and gave me a much-needed wake-up call.
“Mom, when I come home I want it to be peaceful. I want to be with you. But when you act like this, I don’t even want to be here.”
It was what I needed to hear. It reminded me anew of something I learned years ago: I can control the weather in my home – and the choice of whether it’s warm and loving, or cold and annoyed is mine. So I made renewed commitment at that moment – to create a home worth coming home to … for Dylan and every member of my family.
There isn’t a formula for making this happen. But there are some simple things I’ve done in the past to create a peaceful home, and will be renewing in the future. Here are some of my favorite ways to create a welcoming place for my family and friends:
Be aware of my attitude. If I’m harboring resentment or hurt feelings, I don’t always speak in loving ways. When a bad attitude starts to rise up, it always helps to honestly acknowledge the hurt feelings, and turn to the Lord, allowing His peace to calm my heart. Sometimes I need to talk to the one who hurt my feelings. When that doesn’t happen, especially when I’m overworked, I “invite” everyone to my pity party. Instead of motivating them to good works, I criticize. Instead of being proactive, I’m reactive, and a downward cycle ensues. Being honest about my emotions, dealing with them in a healthy way and adjusting my attitude towards kindness, graciousness and mercy
makes such a difference.
Create places of peace. On any given day, you’ll find messes waiting to be cleaned in most rooms in my house. Sometimes those messes hang around until cleaning day. But I’m committed to having the first impression in my home be peaceful. That means, when someone walks into my home, I want them to sense peace and order. So my entry way, kitchen counters and kitchen table are kept clean. My family room is picked up. There is always a place to come in and rest in the main living areas of my home.
Keep refreshments handy. Food has always been a part of happy gatherings. The Bible describes joyful times in Acts 2:46-47a: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” When a hungry husband, child or group of teens make their way into my home, I love having a reason for them to stop in the kitchen. Also, keeping blood sugar at healthy levels helps with all our attitudes. So I try to keep healthy snacks available, and a few unhealthy ones too. For example, the other night my son brought his girlfriend over, and she wanted to make us a pizookie (This was new to me – think deep dish chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top). Thankfully, I had all the ingredients on hand and we had a great time together.
These are just a few ways to create a home that your family wants to come home to. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you make your home welcoming to family and friends? How do you adjust your attitude? Share your thoughts and we’ll all benefit.