By Wanda Lynne Quist
The emptiness isn't in the home; it's in the hands.
My home still has lots of beds. My home still has many chairs at the table. My cupboards still have stacks of dishes and countless spoons and forks.
Not too long ago, my hands were busy all day, laundering sheets and making beds. I spent hours scooting chairs so I could sweep under them. The dishwasher hummed constantly, and there was usually a pile of dirty dishes waiting for the next load. Now my hands aren't as busy with housekeeping duties. I keep them busy doing other things — like dialing the phone and writing letters and e-mails.
The emptiness isn't in the home; it's in the car.
I still have a vehicle with many seatbelts. Not too long ago I lived in the car. If I wasn't driving someone to school or church, I was madly driving a son to pick up school books he left somewhere. I carried reading material in my purse so I had something to do while waiting for play practice to end. We talked in the car. I knew what troubled our daughters because they opened up when we had one-on-one time in the car. Our car was the original chat room.
Now my car sits in the garage most of the time. When I drive, I have CDs and coupons all over the front passenger seat because I usually drive alone.
The emptiness isn't in the home; it's in the ears.
We still have lots of movies and CDs. We even have cassette tapes and long playing vinyl records. We also have a very nice stereo AM-FM radio. Not too long ago, the first place I headed when coming in from an errand was to turn down the stereo four notches. The music was always on — in the family room and in every bedroom.
We never needed an intercom because our kids had their own system. They yelled. "Mom, where's my yellow notebook?" or "Mom, did you remember to buy me a new calculator?" They didn't wait until I was in the room with them. They blurted out their demands from wherever they were to wherever I was as loud as necessary to get the job done. I learned the meaning of cacophony.
Now, the house is so quiet I hear the ice maker drop cubes into its bin. I hear the fan on the furnace start and stop. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I hear the phone ring.
The emptiness isn't in the home; it's in the heart.
My home still has all the furniture we've ever had. Plus, we have closets, dressers, tubs, and boxes full of belongings... awaiting the day the children own homes big enough to hold it. We have sheet music, toys, books, and hairbrushes. What we don't have is people fighting over them.
What we don't have are daily emergencies. Once, I grumbled when I found out at bedtime we had to go to the store for a school item. Once, I groaned when I found out at bedtime (always bedtime) that a pair of pants needed to be shortened. Yet, even as I grumbled and groaned, I felt empowered because I could do those things for my kids. Now, the only time I grumble and groan is when they don't call.
It's the Xtreme sport called "raising a family" that gives a home its heart. Without the family, the house might still be full, but it's missing a piece of its heart.