Happy Labor Day! Last year on this day, I brought my Baby Girl home from the hospital for the first time. It gives new meaning to the celebration no “labor.” Beyond culminating the discomfort of an August pregnancy in Mississippi, I remember feeling so incredibly overjoyed to actually hold her on the outside, to see and touch her. I remember that feeling with each of my gifts. Those few days in the hospital are necessary, but restless. Whether it’s the physical relief of being able to sit or rise unassisted from overstuffed chairs again or the contentment of finally bringing a little one into the nest you’ve prepared, there’s just something comforting about the soul sigh that comes with bringing a baby home.
I love coming home. I enjoy the feeling of driving up to the place where you lay your head. It gives a tangible spin to that sense of belonging created by family. For my preschoolers, home is the center of their view of the world, their understanding of how life works. Each person expresses it differently, but the comfort and joy of home makes its way into every heart.
For Squiggle, it’s the announcement of our arrival. We choose our left or right turns out of the preschool parking lot. We “wheee” down a few hills and look for elusive tractors and firetrucks, but the last turn with our driveway in view is unmistakable. “There’s OUR house.”
For Little Drummer Boy, it’s opening the door for everyone. We race to get out of the truck with juice cups and favorite friends in hand. We make our way up the walkway with no skinned knees and our armloads in tact. And then, Little Drummer Boy opens the door. Usually a small crack gives a quick peek inside, and then he bursts in with a bang. Bouncing into the big red chair means we are home.
For Quiver, it comes out in more subtle ways. Finally coming home is turning off the lights in his downstairs office and taking off his work boots. It’s closing the safety gate at the top of the steps with Baby Girl smiles greeting him. Sometimes I think it’s the trappings of having a celebration-junkie wife in the house. For grilling out, “Are you gonna get out that blue cloth? ‘Cause that makes it nice.” After furniture rearranging, “This is nice. It’s good to have a change sometimes.” “That smells nice,” from a freshly cleaned bathroom. Often home is the details men don’t do for themselves.
For Baby Girl, it’s my comfort level. In our house I know she can try out her walking virtually free from a constant eye. With a few doors strategically closed and the familiar placement of our toys, she doesn’t necessarily need me to monitor her progress. And let’s not forget the faithful “Mommy!” from Little Drummer Boy or Squiggle should she wander into forbidden territory. That’s just part of home.
For me, it’s all of the above.
Last Labor Day weekend, Baby Girl came unexpectedly. I knew something was a little different when I woke up on August 30th. When my water broke at the breakfast table, it was an unmistakable clue, and we were off to the races. We were only in the hospital room for an hour and a half before Baby Girl made her debut. She was two weeks early, and she’s been pushing the envelope ever since, eager to catch up with her brothers.
This year for Labor Day, we are nursing Baby Girl back to health from a case of the flu and dosing up everyone else to try and prevent it from spreading. The flu changed our Labor Day plans for a weekend on the farm, but we are still enjoying an extra day away from the normal schedule of work. I’m thinking about home and work, and rest from labor. One of Little Drummer Boy’s morning prayer requests filters to the surface.
“Let Mommy not get lost at work.”
It was followed by the request to “not let Squiggle get lost at home,” but it stuck. It’s an admonition I take to heart. As much as I enjoy my job and freelance writing, I don’t want to get lost there. I don’t even want to get lost in blogging. I always want to come home–physically, mentally, and emotionally. I want to offer the best of myself to these gifts in this home, and pay my closest attention here where so much is riding on it. It’s a good reminder this Labor Day.