A sense of belonging;
Some “executive “houses buck the general trend in that they are unusually spacious, almost painfully ordered and beautifully furnished, but equally lack the crucial sense of belonging and personal, individual sense of order which makes a home, a home. I visited such a house once, having been invited to a party by a child-less colleague who worked very long hours; she was a lovely person and the house was immaculate, beautiful, in a peaceful country setting. I found it hard to articulate just why I felt so sad and strange there. It was only afterwards that I realised why; it was empty; empty in a profound emotional sense. The white vases, the expensive and spotless pale carpet and duck egg blue wall paper and bright pictures were not expressions of my colleague’s home life; she hardly ever spent much time there; it was all beautifully maintained by a cleaner. The house was a place to drop off occasionally, to hold parties in. It did not feel like a home at all. “A peaceful home life is another motivating factor for childless couples.. Small wonder previously married men with children are reluctant to trade [a ] Bach-filled Sunday for the ones they survived with Nintendo blasting in the background” (Madelyn Cain p112) But this clearly horrible situation only arises where children feel alienated from their parents, that they do not truly belong in the home and look for ways to dull the pain of feeling repulsed, marginalised, separate. “why is it that we always feel the path to someone else’s house will lead us home?” (an interviewee quoted by Madelyn Cain in “ The childless revolution” Perseus Publishing USA 2001). We chase this sense of belonging and safety as a thirsty traveller runs after a mirage in the desert, buying ideal home magazines, reading the Sunday supplements and dreaming of others “ideal” homes and lives. The images in such publications are often beautiful but can seem as empty as my colleague’s house. Yet we can extinguish the tormenting mirage of an ideal home as defined by style experts or developers by finding the well and drinking. And this well is our own home; not just a house, however elegant, but a Home, which we have all created, fashioned and continue to fashion and create and care for all together as a family and where we thereby feel we all genuinely belong, both parents and children.
What transforms a house into a home is not the luxuriousness of the carpet but the family community that grows there, which by the interaction of its members smooths off the sharp edges and comfortably moulds the spaces and objects to its own personality and purposes.