Keeping House — Sheltering, Fostering Gratitude

See also the table of contents for the Keeping House series.

I’m not sure what I was thinking, assuming I’d be able to blog this week with Confection Selection — a fancified bake sale my mother and I coordinate at our church to benefit the local Pregnancy Center — on Saturday. My time in between directing children and disciplining a particular toddler is totally consumed with baking. I’m hoping for a finally flop-free year. This is the tenth year. Maybe I can do it.

I mastered caramels, so there really could be hope.

However, I don’t want to get behind on this book study. So I want to get at least a little something in.

Willa has an excellent summary again, so I’m going to quickly add my own riff to the chapter.

Gratitude v. Discontent

The author was developing how changing our perspective to gratitude for our house instead of thinking about dream houses, breeding discontent, can change how we feel about our house and therefore how we live in our house.

In our ten years of marriage, we’ve lived in 2 apartments short-term, bought 3 houses and rented 1. I have definitely learned that the layout of the house shapes how you live. A small open layout such as we had in our rented house (the living room, dining room, and kitchen really were all one room) was perfect, really, for a preschooler and toddler. I could always see them. The shape of the house naturally led to tomato-staking, whereas in the other houses, I had to consciously set things up to facilitate such training, and it has been more difficult in our current house, with its many separate areas.

But I have also noticed how my attitude about our house, about decorating, about setting-up and organizing, have shifted between all those other houses and this one. This is the house, Lord willing, that we will stay in indefinitely.

We have an acre, yet we’re in the middle of town with the library and grocery store less than a mile away. The house is a comfortable 2500sqft, and the layout (tri-level) is a good one. It’s not completely updated (it’s a late 60’s house), but the kitchen is, and that’s what’s important. But I think the biggest shift is not the type of house, but the mentality that this house is “it.”

No more thinking about building, with all the open-ended options possible, no more thinking, “Well, we’re only going to be year a year or two or three, so it’s not worth putting things on the walls.” I have boxes that had stayed packed from our first house, moved through two other houses, that I finally opened up after being here a year — picture frames, pretty things I had before kids (and before growing up, too; my taste has developed significantly since the time I was 19 and registered for silly things).

Now I feel like I can afford the time to finding what I want for certain areas; I’m in no rush. However, I also want to find the right thing and make the place feel like our home. It’s “worth it” now. If I don’t have the space for something now, then I simply don’t have the space. This house is what I have to work with, and possible future options are closed off.

Personally, it has been freeing and relieving. Even if it ends up not being true for some reason, I will be glad for the mentality. Limits foster creativity. This house now is my limit, my canvas, my home, and I love the feeling. Even while looking at magazines or such, there is no more “Well, maybe in our next house….” Now it is, “Hm. I don’t have a spot for something like that.” Shrug and turn the page.

I thought living unattached to the house we were living in was a good policy. It made it easy to move. It’s true, it did. It also made it difficult to like the house, and to own it personally. Being attached to a house, even one with 60’s bathrooms, is wonderful.

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