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Making a home

A mother’s desire to create a home for her children is a very real thing.

Before my feminist friends lash out at me for that statement, hear me out. I am not talking about this:

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I’m talking more about an innate, natural desire to give our children a home environment that is safe, nurturing and enriching. The desire to give the best we can for our kids.

I saw it firsthand this weekend at the open house we hosted for our rental. It was a circus, as I expected it to be – we had a steady stream of families showing up all day to turn in rental applications. But it wasn’t a fun circus as I had hoped. It was actually kind of heartbreaking.

Let me give you a brief backstory to our home in Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento. It’s a 1945 craftsman that we bought it as a fixer upper when we were newlyweds. We got our families together for “work parties” and spent our weekends making it a place we could call home forever. But then a life took a few unexpected turns, and we ended up in Boston, and later, the Bay Area. We never expected the home would become a rental – but here we are, almost five years later, still waiting for the day we can move back to the house we spent our first year of marriage in.

We’ve since rented a tiny urban apartment, a slightly less tiny urban apartment, and a cottage on a rural farm. This month we’ve been in the process of buying our second home and filling the first with new renters. It’s been a busy time.

Our house in Roseville is a special house. It is not a perfect house, but we think it is sweet and has a lot of personality. Apparently others agree because we had a lot of families who wanted to rent it. We had a handful of families beg for it.

Our little home in Roseville.

Our little home in Roseville.

During our open house on Saturday, we saw a 20-year-old mother and father to a little boy just about Baby G’s age dream of building their family there.

They both work hard, but barely made enough money to pay the rent we were asking – he, as a security guard, she as a sandwich maker at a deli chain. Currently renting an apartment they don’t feel safe in, their eyes brimmed with hope for the life they could create for their baby boy in our home.

As a mom myself now, I knew what this young mother was envisioning. She didn’t see an empty living room. She saw it covered with streamers for her son’s first birthday party. She didn’t see a large, overgrown yard. She saw it filled with a splash pool, a swing set and giggles that poured out to the street. She didn’t see outdated, empty kitchen counters. She saw them covered with wholesome ingredients she’d use to prepare meals for her family.

“This is the perfect place for us,” she said so quietly, as she handed me her rental application. “We would be so happy here.”

We didn’t rent to them.

We had to choose the best applicant from a pile of good ones. We ended up picking another sweet young family who have great rental history and steady employment, and who also fell in love with the home. But that young mother’s face is seared in my memory, as are the many other mothers who were hoping to rent our home and didn’t get chosen.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be humbled and filled with compassion for these mothers and fathers who have the sweet desire to make a home for their children.

I believe each of these families walked through our doors on Saturday so I could pray for them to find the perfect place to raise their children – a better place than our rental. An apartment, a cottage on a farm, a vintage home, a 1980s track home – whatever. I just hope it is a place they can decorate for their children’s birthday parties. A place their children can call home.

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So what do you think? Did having your first child give you a desire to make home? Where do you think that desire comes from?

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