Birds create nests. They take time. They pick their materials carefully. They work hard to make it safe, comfortable, sturdy and beautiful. Most of all, they make it a place where a mama can lay her eggs.
My nest was not like that growing up. Yes, it was big and pretty on the outside but inside… chaos. Mixed with the beautiful antiques from my mother’s childhood was mismatched furniture, a ping pong table that was used as a dining room table, closets missing doors and sleeping bags that sometimes acted as bedding.
Nothing made sense. Nothing had order. The only time our home was “put together” was once a year when we had our annual Christmas Eve party. On that night the house looked dazzling with lights, an enormous tree, incredible food, music and people.
If only Christmas Eve happened every day.
I remember in college all my friends decorating their dorm rooms. Organizing their spaces. Making their beds. Hanging curtains and creating style.
Not me. My area was usually a clutter with piles here and piles there and sad attempts at decorating. I just didn’t know how. I knew what I liked. I knew how I wished it would look. But making that happen? I simply did not know how. And I was too ashamed to ask for help.
This pattern continued my entire life. After college in my first apartment, in marriage, in motherhood, in divorce.
And in the back of my mind was always the thought that where I was living was temporary. Why really move in when at some point we’ll be moving out?
And so it went.
And sure as I got older and a bit healthier I got better here and there but even with my small steps I never really escaped that little girl who was content using a sleeping bag as a blanket.
With each new apartment my girl and I moved into I would have wonderful visions of how it would be, what it would look like, and how this time I would truly make it a home. But if I’m being honest (which, as you can see by my ego sitting in the corner over there pouting, I am) our home only really came together once a year for now our annual Christmas Eve party.
And I couldn’t help but think, is my little girl wishing Christmas Eve came every day?
We’ve been living in our current place for over four years. And still there’s that voice that says, “When you move into the home of your dreams, then THEN you’ll make it what you want it to be.”
But suddenly this time a louder voice gently said, “Be where you are. Live where you are. Make where you are your dream.”
The pattern stops here. Now. Today. Ask for help, Susan.
And so I did. I went to a dear friend who is also a designer and said, “I know what I like, I know what I want it to look like, I know how I want it to feel… I just don’t know how to do it. Can I hire you to help me?”
It was one of the most adult decisions I’ve made. To accept my flaws. To pay a professional. To take action. To look my child in those big blue eyes of hers and say, “It’s going to be Christmas Eve every day in here, baby.”
Together my daughter and I discussed what we wanted. We looked at pictures in magazine, we browsed shops we loved, we made notes and we realized in doing this we both wanted the same thing. All this time we had the exact same style and vision but neither of knew it until now.
In two days my friend and I began a complete makeover on our home. It was exciting, emotional, hilarious and healing. The shame lifted with every brush stroke, pillow, lesson.
We got rid of the old, we made new use of the old.
We were birds flying off to places around the neighborhood and coming home with twigs and yarn and twine to make a nest where my baby and I could lay.
I treated myself to a goose down comforter, shams and pillows, a duvet and more pillows and throws…
And step by step my dear friend, without an ounce of judgment, taught me how to make a bed for the first time in my life.
When my daughter came home after being with her dad to see the house for the first time she was speechless. I followed her around with the video camera as she walked through each room in amazement, eyes wide open, jaw dropped, cheeks flushed.
She didn’t have to say a word. Happiness was written all over her face.
That night as she snuggled in bed with me under our cozy comforter I told her how sorry I was that it had taken me so long to learn how to do this for us. She snuggled in more, “Oh, mama, don’t be sorry. I’ve always loved our home. Now it just looks like us.”