Our moms raise us at home, but then we eventually go out into the world and create our own households, deciding which things we want to replicate and others which we want to change. This week, we talk about the home habits of our upbringing and the home(s) we’ve created or want to create for ourselves.
I was brought up in an apartment for most of my childhood but when I was in junior high school, my parents bought a home in a different town. Here are some things I remember most about my home growing up:
1. Cleanliness: My mother was obsessed with cleanliness and even though we had weekly cleaning help, I remember her tidying up and cleaning every day in between. There was no clutter in our house: the floors were swept after every meal, pajamas (and maybe even sheets!) were ironed, and my mother would wash and dry the sink every evening until it glistened. In retrospect, I think my mother was so concerned with keeping her house clean because it was something she could control when other things in her life were not so controllable. Also, she was a stay-at-home mom, and took pride in a pristine home.
My own homes were not quite as clean: I did not feel the need to keep my home as orderly as my parents’ nor did I want to invest the time and money to do so. Our home is relatively neat and clean, but superficially. There are probably some dust balls lurking and certainly some piles of mail and magazines around, but I just don’t worry about it too much. That is, until life gets really busy and things get out of control. That’s when I call a cleaning crew in, after which I breathe a sigh of relief because my environment is orderly even if my life isn’t. Sound familiar?
2. Decorating: When we moved into our house, my mother hired a decorator and the result was a rather formal-looking home – arranged with carefully selected furnishings, paintings, and knick-knacks. I prefer to live in a casual environment and Gary and I have decorated our home in subtle earth tones. As a teenager, Jenna once commented, “Each room in our house is just a different shade of beige. When I have my own home, I’m going to paint all the trim white and each room a different color!”
3. Anti-DIY: My dad was not a handy man nor did he have the patience to figure out how to fix things. So he hired experts to do everything from hanging light fixtures to mowing the lawn to unclogging a sink. Surprisingly, I turned out to be pretty handy myself: I am the designated painter and picture-hanger, have learned to do some electrical work by watching an electrician, and am the resident gardener in charge of the flower beds. Luckily, Gary’s a pretty handy guy so we don’t have to run to the Yellow Pages every time something breaks.
4. Great parties: My mother was a great cook and she loved to entertain. We had most holidays at our house and guests always commented on her beautifully set table and the delicious food. I’m a decent cook and I enjoy having people over, but I have my limits. Around 10-12 guests is comfortable for me – more than that puts me over the edge. Mom also spent a lot of care in feeding our family and dinners consisted of multiple courses starting with a slice of melon or half a grapefruit and ending with a yummy dessert. While I make sure we have a healthy combo of veggies, carbs and protein, I don’t roll out the red carpet every night. I’m into quick and easy.
So summing things up, I’d say that I was brought up in a home where everything was well planned and cared for. My home habits are a bit more spontaneous as I’m always trying to squeeze the homemaking stuff into a packed day of work and play.
While I have been living away from home for quite some time, I’ve noticed some particular (and maybe even peculiar!) habits I’ve picked up from my mom along the way.
1. Piles: Our house was always clean growing up, but both my mom and stepdad have this habit of creating piles of papers, coupons, articles, and bills that tend to clutter the kitchen table – and pretty much all surfaces in the house! Whenever we have guests over, we pack up the piles and place them in another room and, all of a sudden, it looks like a completely new home. Unfortunately, I’ve carried this tradition into my home as I look around at the piles of homework readings, bills, and articles I hope to read one day (but will probably never get to). And keeping with tradition, as soon as I know a friend is coming over, I sweep up the piles, place them in my closet, and my place looks tidy as can be!
2. Family Art: Friends who have seen my various apartments over the past 5 years always comment on my artwork. While many 20-somethings have tons of posters, I have lots of original artwork, mostly created by mom or me. Art is something we both enjoy and while my paintings tend to look amateur, my mom’s pieces are fabulous! I like having my mom’s artwork around because it reminds me of our house at home where the walls are filled with my mom’s paintings and my stepdad’s photography. I feel like it gives a home a personal touch when you can hang decorations that are home-made.
3. “Conserving”: Over the past few years, my mom became much more conscious about recycling, composting, and keeping a “green” house. While this all makes sense, she also likes to preserve food items and other things. In particular, we are a big tea-drinking family and my parents reuse tea bags over and over – you will often find lots of mugs with dried-out tea bags across our kitchen counter. I make fun of my mom about this peculiar habit, but I must admit that when my tea selection is getting low, I sometimes do it too.
4. Color Schemes: Whether you have been in our family’s house in Randolph or condo in Florida, the decorating looks very similar, mostly because we are a very neutral-tone family. Browns and beiges fill our house with an occasional touch of green or red to brighten it up. While I know my mom gets sick of this color scheme (and I do too), we both can’t seem to stay away from it! When decorating my new apartment, I tried to be bold and use more blues but at the end of the day, I still gravitate and feel most at home when I use colors similar to the house I was raised in!
After reading my mom’s post, I can see how her homemaking style is different from my grandmother’s. While I still don’t have a permanent house of my own, I think I will carry on many of the traditions and peculiarities that I was raised with, mostly because my lifestyle and values are very similar to my mom’s. But time will tell!
What home habits do you and your mother share? (Tell us in the comment section!)