Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Home

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. Sara's husband came up with the theme for this month. His prompt was "Home is where ____ is." We thought it was fitting with the month of being thankful. 

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:                                                                                                                                     
Home is where your home is.                                                                                                        When I was growing up, I lived in a lot of apartment communities and complexes, with brief stints with my grandparents and at one point, I stayed with my best friend’s family before I left my hometown of Salem, Oregon for Arizona. Although I lived in the same capital city for most of my childhood, I moved so frequently and often that I ended up attending five elementary schools before going to middle school, then high school...all in all, when it was all said and done, eight schools in total! One of the biggest things I’d learned from this type of nomadic lifestyle had been to acclimate to varying environments, particularly with new friends, new teachers, and new surroundings. But at the same time, I never felt settled. I never felt like I could put roots down and just be.

Given my childhood experiences, I wanted something different for my children. My eldest son had gone to one elementary school for his kindergarten through fourth grade years before we moved out of state, then he finished up at a new elementary school for fifth and sixth grade, before moving on to his own middle school and high school. He hasn’t been shuffled around nearly as much as I’d been, yet I remember I still felt immense guilt when we had to leave the friends and school he knew so well.

We recently moved into a new home. We haven’t left the city we live in. In fact, the move placed us closer to everything; grocery stores, freeways, our appointments, if we need to make one. My sons and their respective school district. Even though we only moved six miles closer to civilization, I felt that guilt again. That I was stripping my kids from the house they’d lived in for the last six years, only to make them start over somewhere else. 

But the other thing I learned from getting shuffled around from place to place, is that your primary people--family, close friends, your support system--doesn’t have to change. I still have close childhood friendships that have lasted for decades, no matter where I moved to. And as an adult, some of my close-knit groups of people have been military families who have moved from state to state, yet we are still there for one another, as best we can be, given the circumstances. I think what makes a home, is the people in it. The friends who support you. And I want my sons to learn that, too. That home is where your home is. It doesn’t really matter where that might be--as long as you create long-lasting roots with your family and loved ones, in whatever capacity.  

This is our new home. We moved in just a couple of months ago, but I’m looking forward to making new memories here with my husband and sons, and our dog, cat, blue-tongued skink, and soon, the two parakeets our youngest wants to add to our menagerie. It’s an interesting adventure, but it’s ours. 

Melissa Amster:                                                                                                     
My answer to this prompt is pretty obvious: Family. Due to the pandemic, I've been spending a lot of time with my husband and kids over the past year and a half. I feel like we've bonded more as a result, even though we have our own various interests. My favorite times are when we play a game together where we come up with a lot of inside jokes. I'm very thankful to have this closeness with my family and not get bored of being around them all the time. I think being home together all the time has shaped our personalities and our relationships with one another. 

My husband and I will be together a total of 20 years at the beginning of next year. I never thought I'd ever be in a serious relationship that was this long-term, but I'm still very happy with him and he always makes me laugh. I got him back into reading books a while ago and we are sometimes happy to just share a couch while reading our own books. We still have our individual interests when it comes to TV shows and movies, but we also share a few. We recently watched Ted Lasso, Maid, and Only Murders in the Building together. A few weeks ago, my husband noticed my Ted Lasso theme song ringtone and took my phone and made some voiceover changes to it with his impressions of the characters from the show. It was, and still is, hilarious!

My older son and I have always been close, but we've connected even more over the past year. Now that he's back at school in person, he texts me a lot during his breaks and we joke around together often. He's also learning how to drive and while I swore I would never be in the passenger seat until he got his license, I am somehow now the primary adult around for all his practicing. (It's not as scary as I imagined.) 

Even though my younger son is a teenager now, he still loves being around me and is always affectionate. He's gotten into some Broadway musicals over the past year or so and now he and I listen to the soundtracks together. (In the past, I was just listening to them with my older son.) He's more of an introvert, but I think going back to school has brought him out of his shell. 

My relationship with my daughter is more complex, as she's a tween and it shows. I'm reading the third book in Rebecca Prenevost's Mom Walks series and I feel less alone now. However, she still likes talking with me and always trying to get to know me better. We joke around a lot too. I recently introduced her to a TV series that I love and now she's obsessed with it, so that's something new to bond over. She also loves going thrift shopping, even though she never can decide what she likes when we're there. 

I love spending time with my family, whether it's at home or traveling. (We did get some trips in this past summer, such as staying at a cabin, a road trip to Chicago for my sister's wedding, and a couple of days at Virginia Beach.) I know my older son will be going to college in a few short years, so I want to latch on to this time when all five of us are together for as long as it lasts!

Here are some pictures from our camping trip earlier this year:

Tell us what defines "home" for you.

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