Most people I meet on a daily basis hear that I’m a housewife and automatically assume that means I have a lot of spare time to waste. And that’s not necessarily true. But I’m guessing it’s the same for a lot of people. It’s just that a lot of the work I do is behind the scenes.
During the week, I share my home with my husband, his 21 year old son, four small dogs, and his oldest son’s German shepherd. Every weekend, we’re joined by his two youngest sons, who are 12 and 10. And during the summer, his two youngest are with us even more often than they are the rest of the year.
If not for our smallest and youngest dog, Gwen, I’d be the only female in my household, people and dogs included.
That many people and dogs in one house makes for a busy household on its own. Some days it feels like Grand Central Station– everyone always in the midst of either coming or going, with dogs running every which way.
Beds to be made, meals to be cooked, laundry to be done. It keeps me busy. And I’ve always loved being busy.
I grew up in a house where my mother always kept a garden– fruit trees, grapevines, veggies– she made her own jellies.
I used to dream of one day having a garden of my own. So when we bought our first house, I spent the first year settling in, getting used to being a new housewife, and learning what that meant.
When the end of that first winter in the house was drawing to a close and the following spring was on its way, I started prepping for my first garden.
My husband bought me miniature greenhouses, and I started my garden from seed in early February, planning on getting everything ready to go into the garden beds themselves the third week of March. (When you live in the same town for over 20 years, you learn a few things. And if there’s one thing I’ve come to know about this town, it’s that you never plant when the air first starts to feel warm that first week of March, because that second week is a mean one. No… the third week. That’s when you take your plants outside, and you put them into the beds. And not a day before, otherwise you risk losing everything to the sudden cold front that always hits the second week of March.)
That first one wasn’t much to write home about, and it wouldn’t have won any prizes, but I was just tickled to death to find I grew enough zucchini to make bread. It was the first time I’d ever actually planted something on my own, and sitting there, cutting those zucchini off of the vine with the boys, I remembered all those summers I spent with my mother in her garden, picking the weeds, watering the plants, harvesting the fruits and the veggies. It felt good.
The garden is evolving year by year as I learn from my mistakes, and I learn how to change and adapt with the sometimes-unpredictable weather. The fruit trees are getting older now, and within a few years I’m hoping to get into jelly-making. Remembering the Santa Rosa plum jelly my mother used to make, and her homemade apricot jelly makes my mouth water at the thought. I want to share those memories with our boys.
There’s something about something homemade, isn’t there? Homemade jellies, homemade bread (my husband makes incredible bread, but shh! Don’t tell him I told you.). I’ve always loved homemade things. It takes thought, and time.
My mother has always crocheted blankets of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen her create amazing patterns that she just pulled out of her head, or where she’d see a picture, and she could recreate it. To this day, if you went over to her house you’d catch her curled up in her chair, working on one. Sometimes she’d work on two at a time, and she’d switch off between them whenever the store wasn’t carrying the yarn she needed.
I still to this day have blankets she made me back when I was in grade school, and I love that– knowing they’re the same blankets I had on my bed the whole time I was growing up, and that when I’m homesick or missing my parents, I can curl up in them again.
Now I’m the one you’ll catch curled up in a chair or in front of my computer, music or movie going and me working on a blanket. Mine are nowhere near as intricate or gorgeous as my mother’s are, but hey, I’m learning, and I figure that’s something.
After we first moved into the house, that first winter I saw the boys huddled up on the couch in their comforters, so on a whim I sat down and made throw blankets to keep on the arm of the couch for them to use. It felt good to see them reaching instinctively for the blankets I’d made a month or so later, when I finished them, as though they’d always done it.
My mother made them each a blanket in their favorite colors, and, remembering how I felt about the blankets she’d once made for me, I asked them if they’d like me to make them each one, and they said they would.
His middle son picked camouflage yarn, so we brought it home and I got to work. Over the next month, I worked on it every night, sat down with my music or my movies after the house was clean and the laundry and dishes were done, waiting until my husband would come home from work. Some nights I worked all night, trying to get it done for him.
And then, finally, the last stitch was done, and I threw it in the washer. By the time he showed up that next weekend and came walking into his room, it was on his bed.
He’s slept with it every night since. And when we curl up in the living room to watch our movies, he drags it out with him, and he curls up in it. My gaze slips over to him from time to time, and I can’t help but smile to know that something I made means so much to him. It’s an indescribable feeling, knowing he loves something I made just for him.
The youngest is next– his favorite Avenger is Captain America, so he declared his blanket HAS to be red, white, and blue. He would’ve liked if I could’ve made the blanket look like Cap’s shield, but hey, I’m only human, and he understands that.
He’s my little gardener, my little chef. Every time he catches me in the kitchen or the garden, he follows me, and he helps me, determined to learn any and everything he can get his hands on.
Our middle son loves the kitchen, and he loves learning to cook, but he’s more our thinker, our dreamer, so he leaves all the dirtiest garden work to me and the youngest.
All things considered, with everything else I have going on and getting back into my runner’s training, I can’t really think of any point in the day where I stop to catch my breath, aside from when I’m here, at my laptop, writing, blogging, listening to music or watching movies and working on my blanket.
But I like it that way. Moving into our house that first day, bringing the boxes inside, it was just a house– just four walls and a roof with a door. But after we brought our things inside, after we painted the walls and I planted my garden, my roses– those four walls began to feel more like a home.
Growing up, I guess I never realized how much my mom did for us, as a mom, or for my dad, as a wife.
Now, being a wife and a stepmom myself, I think I’m beginning to understand what it means to really be those things, to have a home and a family of my own to care for.
And every year, the garden’s getting better. Every year, the trees are growing taller, and the grapes are getting bigger.
Every year, with each and every project undertaken, this house is becoming more a home. And I love knowing that, and that I can be a part of it. That the things I make and the things I do make a difference, even if it is just inside these walls, with my family.
And with each and every project I finish within these walls, I find myself looking forward to my next big project.