This was my grandparents house, they moved here when I was about 5 or 6. My grandmother passed away in this house in 2007; that is 35 years of history plus the 3 since. I spent the night here snuggling with my grandmother in the bed that remains in this house. For good and for bad, we are now the proprietors of the Family Home.
Moving here in 2008 was also the proverbial fresh start. Ah, that's the interesting part. As a new bride in 1986 I had high hopes for the home I would keep. Neat as a pin, homey, nourishing food on the table, quiet mornings on the small back patio of the home we rented. I worked at it, I really did. And there is where the fairy tale ends because my Prince Charming didn't share my vision. Home improvement projects were far beyond a priority but more disappointing, my charming little home didn't impress him. I heard myself constantly prompting him to notice the fresly washed linens or admire the organized living room or appreciate the from-scratch soup.
Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.
Children and finances and marriage strife overwhelmed the joy of hospital corners and freshly polished coffee tables. And I gave up. If you are now shaking your fist at the awfulness of the young Mr., well, shake it a minute more because he was a jerk.
Ok, you can now unclench your fist.
He was a jerk but in all fairness, he never pretended to care about the picket fence plan and I was way too needy of his approval. Also, he was a jerk.
Children grew and finances stabilized and our marriage became solid and good but the giving up part remained. The lazy part of my flesh couldn't find the energy to go against the tide and the reformed Mr. still would rather get take-out than eat spaghetti from our kitchen.
A few things happened in 2008. I took a new position and got a pay raise. We moved into our new old house. And I lured that 19 year old dreamer of picket fences back into my life. This time, though, it was for the joy of it that she blossomed. I also put my foot down. Without anger or accusation, I told Dean what was in my heart. That the way we had lived, choreographed to his stronger personality, was not the way we were going to live. I was in love with him, I was happy but I was not completely happy because the picket fence dreamer was being told to sit down and be quiet. I was confident enough now for her to stand up and speak. And he was confident enough now to hear me without becoming defensive. So I laid down some ground rules.
Our home would be neat and pleasant. I would take on most of the housekeeping so things would be done the way I wanted them done but I would not resent the work I volunteered to take on. His responsibility would be not to work against me by leaving Pepsi cans in the living room and dirty dishes in the sink.
I would cook the food that I had wanted to serve all along and I would know that it wouldn't always be just what he wanted. He didn't have to sing my praises but he would not push the food around on his plate and go for Taco Bell later (yes, he used to do that.)
I would let the picket fence dreamer blossom because the act of it is utter joy. The need for attention and praise was immature. It didn't reflect a celebration of the creation honoring the Creator.
Because I am certain of the Mr.'s love for me, I can now firmly put my foot down and demand (yes that is the correct word) the kind and quality of life I want and need. I can insist on the paint color I want and spend money on flowers and plants without fear of his disapproval.
Does he always enjoy this blossoming? No. He gets frustrated when he has an idea for something and I tell him that isn't exactly what I want. If I sound selfish, I guess I am. I don't mind the word. It really is that I have come to the conclusion that this life I now build for myself isn't entirely for my own sake, it is just another example of the Potter's hand and the submissive clay. Dean was never meant to mold and shape me and that is what I was allowing him to do. He didn't intend it but there it is.
So now, I blossom. I build my life in what is the perfect idea of the bird building her nest. It took years for the picket fence dreamer to gather her tools, understand herself and learn the skills but now...she blossoms.
Today I live inside of walls that used to be the home of my grandparents' but now, they are mine. Once upon a time, a Gardener held a seed and breathed on it with life. He planted it into ground that was sometimes dry and often dark. The seed reached out and felt only the cool sides of its shell and wondered if all of the life swirling around inside would ever matter. Seasons of rain and drought, of sun and of cold, of weeds choking and water falling just in time came and went and came and went and...
Now I blossom. Now I cannot become a different color or scent or height or purpose because I am what the Gardener planted.
Pardon the mixed metaphors, the Potter, the Gardener. What I mean to say is that the life breathed into us is the same life breathed into Adam. He was created whole and perfect and grew into something less. Now, we are born something less but grow into the whole and perfect creation of redemption.
When you find, in great revelations or tiny glimpses, what you might be; then you must become selfish. It is very important that you do not become selfish until you have outgrown the demand for attention, approval, accolades or else you are just a tantruming child and who likes that? Wait until you find yourself being exactly as you are and nearly bursting with the joy of it. And then wait until you hear yourself explaining to others that you just must insist on being and doing what you are with the voice of the Holy Spirit and not your own.
And then, be selfish. Demand the sun and the soil and the rain that you need, pulling gently so that the roots come too-remove the weeds that surround you.
Now go blossom.
Image: What will be chicken soup, which the Mr. will not eat. And which gives me joy.