So Whit came home yesterday and you'd think the man had been off fighting a war for two years instead of reliving his college days for a weekend. The kids and I got in the car to go pick him up, and the dog looked so sad that we were leaving that I let him jump in the car, too. When we got to the airport, the kids flew out of the car and tackled him. The dog actually did circles in the front seat, whacking me in the face with his tail every time he spun, and whined pathetically until Whit paid attention to him.
Once we got home, it was all Daddy, all the time. The kids fell over each other showing him everything he had missed -- the confetti left by the leprechauns, the mosaic, the new clothes, the homework that was graded, the bear from the birthday party, etc, etc.
Dinner? They flanked him. Showers? He was the master shampooer. Bedtime stories/back scratching/cuddling? You guessed it, Daddy/Daddy/Daddy.
Then he came downstairs and we sat on the couch for two hours while he updated me on all his friends, their golf games, how much bourbon they can drink, what their kids are doing, how their jobs are going, who snores. He had me in stitches about some chicken farmer from Georgia who somehow integrated himself into this group. Apparently the guy is full of anecdotes about chicken equipment failures and chicken dismembering (I don't want to think about how they're related).
All in all, I think his liver is pickled, he's five pounds heavier, his golf game improved and his stomach is sore from laughing so hard. He had the kind of break everyone needs.
As he was falling asleep, he said to me, "It sure was fun, but nothing beats coming home."
I kept thinking about that today. Isn’t it a really good thing when a home is so much more than a house? I started to wonder what ingredients make up our home, and I realized it’s a lot of laughter, a lot of love, a healthy dose of fighting, an unhealthy dose of worry. We’re made up of food groups and dog hair on the couch and glasses of wine by the fire. We’re definitely made up of messy closets and dust bunnies. Then, of course, you’d throw in almost nine years of babies crying (ours and my six nieces and nephews), loooong, generally yucky discussions about money and jobs and savings, lots of late-night cuddles during thunderstorms and plenty of hugs and kisses. You'd add sports and books and cartoons. You’d throw in construction projects and happy hours. You would drop in gut-wrenching heartache and gut-wrenching joy. You’d have to add dinner parties, clean and dirty jokes and adult (and often highly inappropriate) Secret Santa exchanges. You’d throw in exercise and bedtime stories and prayers. You'd add insecurities, failures and successes. You’d have to stick in family obligations (did I already mention my dad living in the basement?) You’d want to add so, so, so many tears…of happiness, sadness, hurt, worry, joy. If you stirred all that up, or perhaps, in our case, just threw it up into the air, I think that’s pretty much who we are and how our home is made.
It’s not all good, and it’s not all easy. I doubt anyone's is. But it’s what we’ve got, and who we are. And all I know is that leaving our home is sometimes the most liberating feeling in the world, but there's nothing like the comfort of coming back.