Home is where everything is

Yesterday morning I got up, packed a rather surprising amount of fibre into the car (and I say that as someone who is sort of hard to surprise in a fibre way) and drove like thunder for home.  As a general rule, I am not someone you want to have come home to you. This family is used to the way it works.  I get home, I’m exhausted from being away, travelling and whatever I was away for, and they all have missed me and been waiting to tell me stuff and have a list of things for me to participate in, and I stagger in the door just wanting dinner, a bath and my bed – and suddenly those two things can’t exist in one space – someone who is needed, and a person who needs a rest.  Throw in that I’m always looking forward to a home that operates the way I like it to  (since I have had limited success converting hotels) and the family has converted our home that runs the way they like it to while I was away, and boom.  Usually someone has hurt feelings and is brimming with resentment in ten minutes.  The longer I’m gone the worse it is.  I’ve been where they wanted to be (away doing fun things) and they’ve been where I want to be (home, doing fun things) and nobody can understand why everyone is annoyed.

Yesterday I got smart.  I lay in bed in the hotel and I thought about how I could make it different, and only one word came to my mind. Generosity. I was going home, and generosity was the only way it could work.  I would have to be generous with the people here. Walk in the door prepared to love them, and only them, and be here for them and only them, and that would be totally cool except for I was sort of tired.

I took a minute, and I got smart. To give them everything that they needed, I needed to be everything that I could be when I got home. I made a plan. I drank coffee in the hotel room, and I organized all my stuff.  I made it super tidy and well sorted so that I could walk in the door to my home and let it all sit while I re-connected with these people. I planned the laundry, I put it together in one bag, I organized the stuff (wool) I was bringing home so it could wait.  I sorted my receipts. I planned the whole thing so that the whole day was as nice as it could be for every person included, and darn it, that meant me. 

I drove home. My extremely well organized self got in the car, and set a route and I took lots of space around me so that the person who arrived home wasn’t a tired crazy person who only wanted to be left alone, but an organized, fulfilled person who was delighted to see her family, and was looking forward to cleaning up their mess.  On the way home, I stopped at Niagara Falls.  I’ve been there so many times, and it never ceases to fill the part of me that needs to remember the world is amazing, beautiful and bigger than I am.  I walked up and down, contemplated the force and largess of it all, and then drove the last hour and a half home.

The difference was amazing.  It would seem that this time, I learned what it was to arrive home with a generous, full cup, prepared to do nothing but give to my family – and wonder of wonder, I arrived home to a husband and family who had decided the same thing.  The house was clean. Joe had taken the day off.  He had a dinner plan.
I arrived, we unpacked together, we did laundry together, and I went for a run while Joe checked in with work, and then I made dinner while he tidied up loose ends. Then he cleaned up the kitchen while I visited with the relevant kids and sent the emails I needed to, and then we had an evening together while I knit and he drafted schematics.  (I still don’t know what that is, but it seems to be his version of knitting.)

I think that after years of trying, we might have nailed re-entry.

384 thoughts on “Home is where everything is

  1. Wow – once again I have learned so much from you! I bet this can be applied to the daily 5 pm return to my home too

  2. I kept waiting for the punch line -that they had all gone to spend the night at the neighbors or something. Nice to come home to peace instead.

  3. I am so jealous that you have been to Niagra so many times. It is on the top of my list of things to see. DH’s list is differently prioritized. Congrats on the re-entry epiphany.

  4. It goes back to basics. “Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others.” You can’t predict what their needs are going to be, only your own. Even if you had gotten home to chaos, planning ahead for that and giving yourself some space would have given you a better re-entry anyway. I think that may be the hardest thing we do as mothers – to think of ourselves first sometimes. But it’s necessary.

  5. What a refreshing idea. I am sorta in between places now. When I get home, I just want to rest and my hubby wants me to do things with him. I think I need an attitude adjustment. Thanks for the advice.

  6. It almost sounds like this whole trip was one of exciting changes. You stayed away extra days and did some different things and they really appreciated you when you came home. Sounds really good.

  7. Well as you know, in space travel, re-entry is always the most dangerous part. All that gravity trying to burn things to a crisp. Good job overcoming it! 🙂

  8. What a lovely (and scenic!) post. Thank you for the invitation to graciousness. Class Saturday afternoon was great!

  9. Well, thank god. So happy to see they finally got a clue and didn’t present you with a filthy house and mountains of laundry. You don’t do that to people you care about!

  10. Yay! That is a great homecoming! It’s always best if you can come home without needing a vacation from your vacation.

  11. Cool beans! Way to take care of yourself, thereby taking care of those you love. (And I love the way the blanket changes colors according to the lighting. It is a lovely thing.)

  12. How lovely! Nice coordination with the family!
    I’m not even going to bait you and ask which way the glasses were. (Joe, I totally think they should be rims down)

  13. as my BF says when something works out for me – “yay YOU!” and I suspect the stop at Niagra Falls got you mentally “organized” (read de-stressed) to face whatever was awaiting you. So what a lovely surprise they gave you. Yay Joe! Yay Girls!

  14. The fewer the people ( kids), the easier re-entry becomes. And NO ONE wants to come home to clean up someone else’s mess. Gee whiz.

  15. What a good example. The time you spent at the Falls in nature, fed your soul. It filled you, so you had something to give. How wonderful that your family had the same idea you did. The best of both worlds. A gracious time had by all. :D:D

  16. Such a dreamy homecoming. A lovely post that reminds us to take a step back, and make what we can, work. I love a happy ending.

  17. Excellent, congratulations. Well done!
    Oh, and I like the observation about “Joe’s version of knitting.”

  18. I was at the FLFF. My first time away from my family by myself for a long time. I came home to a pot of stew that had been spilled down the front and into the oven, a bag of pears that had gotten too close to the stovetop, and last but not least the door to the big freezer had been left open for a long time, lost some food I had put up for winter, the pantry floor and the basement ceiling. Now I remember that I feel like the family punishes me whenever I attempt to go away

  19. What a great homecoming for all of you. The photos of the Falls are gorgeous! Need to go visit them again soon.

  20. I grew up in Buffalo, and I MISS Niagara Falls! Thank you for the wonderful pictures.
    I’m so glad you had such a pleasant re-entry!

  21. That sounds like a typical thing to need to learn. I am not sure I have learned that yet, but I don’t have quite as much travel to use for practice. I’ll have to keep this in mind in the hopes that I’ll shorten the learning time.

  22. Yes! Re-entry is a skill if not an art. I didn’t have quite the same situation but I did learn that someone has to wait while the other person does the greeting-and-info-dump. The other thing to remember (which obviously you did) is to take care to notice and mention anything that they have done to make your homecoming nicer. For example, if the kitchen is clean, don’t assume they didn’t cook – say thanks for cleaning.

  23. Holy cow — you’ve found your Parallel Universe, minus the Spock with a mustache! Or else you walked into the wrong house. How else do you explain that many things coming together?????

  24. Generosity really is the answer to a lot of life’s problem’s, isn’t it (including being generous to yourself).

  25. Noted full skeins in picture to keep the blanket going. Excellent!
    Long time since I’ve been to The Falls.

  26. Woo hoo!!
    A good time away, a successful re-entry, and a walk at one of my favourite places, too.
    I love Niagara Falls. I need to go there again soon.

  27. Drafted schematics sounds exactly like knitting to me! 🙂
    So glad you had a happy homecoming, and could also post photos of a place we may never see firsthand!

  28. Maybe it was the extra time that you were away. You must have been missed.
    It also helps to have no expectations of them or yourself upon re-entry.

  29. This gives me much hope at the beginning of a fall filled with travel and the need for constant leavings and comings. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story’!

  30. OMG! Call the Guiness Book of World Records! Call the Vatican!! The Yarn Harlot came home to an organized household!!! It’s a miracle!!!
    Seriously, I’m glad to hear you had a pleasant re-entry into your everyday world. Hope it included some contented purring from the cat, some chocolate, and a glass of something wonderful.

  31. Very nice! Being mindful and aware makes such a difference. Taking care of yourself, and paying attention to yourself allows you to give more to others. Thank you for the reminder to practice this as often as I can for myself and my own family!

  32. Stopping at the Falls was inspired. I always stop, they never disappoint. But I also love the negative ion-rich atmosphere and being at the bottom of the Falls on the Maid of the Mist is a heady, heady experience. It never fails to increase my calm and well-being.

  33. Awesome! When I know I have to enter a situation, I tell myself to relax & let the love flow…

  34. That was so cool – makes me want to take a trip just so I can try getting myself sorted before coming back! What a great feeling!

  35. I always love your posts, but this one is amazing. What a beautiful story. I’ve been working on becoming more generous – or more accurately – generous more often, when I really don’t feel like it. It really does make a huge difference.

  36. I’m impressed! Re-entry is hard on everyone. That you all had an epiphany regarding everyone’s roles is amazing. Rarely happens…. just saying’. REALLY nice when it does. So, now that you are in a good space, the nag in me appears. I really don’t want to miss your retreat in Port Ludlow. Can you post a “heads up” for those of us who are waiting with baited breath… It is my reward (however unearned) and I SO don’t want to miss it.
    I know you are busy/tired/have other things to do but, Thanks.

  37. Bravo!
    I have often said that my imagnary family, the ones that I think of on my way home from work, is so much nicer than my actual family. Perhaps if I become a better me, they won’t have to measure up!
    Thank you!

  38. I was kinda hoping that next to the photo of the in-progress blanket, might be a photo of an in-progress schematic (whatever that is)…

  39. Knitting and drafting schematics…. this all sounds so familiar. That’s the same thing my husband and I do many evenings. How nice that you had a calm homecoming!

  40. Thank you for the present of the photos of Niagara. This is where I am from but haven’t lived there in a long time and miss it. Another kindness in your day.

  41. Well done, all of you. Just remember: the family converts the home they like it while you are away. Do not take that as in: always. When you are home, they like it the way you like it: clean, tidy, washings done and floors cleaned, the shopping done and also cleared away, they only like to live like . ah, not pigs, more like little children, when you are away. I get the schematics thing, you are right, schematics of whatever are like knitting.

  42. You give me hope for us all with this tale of kindness and love. You’ll probably get a chance to practice this again soon, given your work – may reentry go as well the next time you go on the road.

  43. Awesome! Your post made me smile and cry at the same time. My family is going through some stressful, emotional stuff right now. (Did your teens ever hate you?)You gave me a little hope that things will get better and we will one day bring joy to each other again. Well done, Ma’am!

  44. Brilliant. Thanks for the toolset. Even though my tribe at home is smaller (just my husband), it’s a good reminder to save something good for both of you when you get home.

  45. Good for you both, we do get a bit smarter as we get older. Although I fall off the wagon of smartness every once in a while. Thanks for the reminder of how to come home! Sounds like a fabulous night!

  46. Kudos to you all!
    It’s so hard to remember to be generous with others consistently. I’ve had hints (in my own life) that it improves with practice, but I forget constantly. Thanks for the reminder.
    The blanket is lovely… and it seems that it is almost finished!

  47. Sounds awesome 🙂 Rob and I are very good at re-entry… it’s the being together long-term we have trouble with (and the leaving), since we’re in a long-distance relationship, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
    Now just write all this down and remember it for next time. Oh wait, you already wrote it down 😉

  48. Yes, brilliant! It’s a trick I discovered a few years ago, but still forget to implement occasionally! It makes all the difference 🙂

  49. Fabulous! In my experience, generosity is almost always the answer. And it tend to bring out a similar response in others. So lovely that you and your family were on the same page.

  50. Thank you for posting this. This is something I’ve been grappling with a lot lately, as I’m more prone to being stressed out and critical than generous and loving. My poor guy sometimes thinks he can’t do anything right. Glad you had such a wonderful re-entry!

  51. Glorious! The photos, your thoughtfulness and planning and especially the end result. All glorious! Your re-entry was a success on so many level. I’m so glad you were able to change past habits and create a new, better, more wonderful and healthy one! Enjoy your home and family. 🙂

  52. Please be sure to thank everyone for their grace and generosity, and compliment everyone concerned on a job well down. Nothing breeds success like success.

  53. We call it ‘grace’ down here in our house. Congrats. If you like to read, ‘Too Close to the Falls’ is a wonderful memoir about a precocious girl who grew up near the Niagara Falls. Her story of sledding down toward that raging river is heart stopping.

  54. This is so inspiring! I expected an ironic ending, and instead I read about success! We CAN change circumstances that we think are unavoidable, with love and kindness. (And I’m so glad you weren’t the only one who had to shift attitude.)

  55. My mantra for anything resembling this situation is “have no expectations” – works for my marriage too!!!

  56. Your side of the falls is one of the most beautiful walks in the world. Wish I was there, too.
    Congratulations on a happy re-entry.

  57. I love this. I wish we could figure out this kind of synchronicity when we come home from work, much less a vacation. All those conflicting needs and expectations, genrosity is a really good place to start.

  58. What a wonderful post. It’s these kinds of “transformation moments” that can keep us and our relationships going. My sweetheart and I live a long drive apart, and sometimes our re-entries could use improving. I love this. Thank you, thank you.

  59. You are so wise in this! In order to be able to give what you need, you need to first have the peace and joy to give. I really admire your thoughts on this and your obvious deep thought. It is weird “what it all comes down to”, isn’t it? When I help the family pack up for vacation (particularly when we ALL go) I have to be sure that laundry at home is done and put away, that there aren’t (too many) dirty dishes in the sink, and (too much) stuff on the floor. It certainly is nicer to come home when home is a place you WANT to be!

  60. And I thank you for the time you put into posting these lovely messages. The falls are amazing, saw them in 1995, from Maid in the Mist, WOW! Welcome home <3

  61. (I still don’t know what that is, but it seems to be his version of knitting.) — that line cracked me up! everyone needs their own version of knitting…

  62. Congratulations, Stephanie. Generosity is indeed the key to so many thing. In tandem with gratitude, it’s greater than any power on the planet. Thanks for reminding me that I owe my husband and son an apology.

  63. This. This is why people (by which I mean me, but clearly I am not alone) adore your blog. Yes, it’s about a shared passion (knitting), but it’s also SO much more. Brava Madame Harlot. You continue to inspire on many levels.

  64. Taproot must have made its mark on you, and you sent the vibes home ahead of you. Now you can reap the reward. 🙂

  65. I too needed this advice to follow… I will try this next time I re enter— I am going to breathe deeply and once again channel Stephanie… Love

  66. Oh, this was lovely to read. I’ve recently been having thoughts along the same vein myself, so it’s nice to hear them from another busy woman. 🙂 Good job! Glad it went well.

  67. An inspirational post….what mom hasn’t had that secret feeling of dread hanging over the natural anticipation of coming home, because you know the dirty house and the family’s pent-up need for you will swallow you up immediately and drive all thoughts of your lovely time away out of your head?! I just went through that after coming home from a beautiful 20th-anniversary trip with my hubby. Wish you had posted this great piece just a week earlier, so I could have followed your advice – 🙂 Glad you have discovered the secret… and shared it!

  68. Beautiful. Thank you. Somehow it’s entirely normal that re-entry is so often so difficult. Knowing and planning around that is power, though, and you and Joe totally rocked it. Thank you for influencing more people for good than you could possibly know with this post.

  69. Welcome home. I drove up to Niagara Falls for the first time this summer with my two boys. It was a bit of a long drive from southern CT, but it was worth it. I can’t wait to go back; it’s now one of my very favorite places.

  70. Yow! Beautiful story. And you made some beautiful photos of Niagara Falls, which I’ve never seen, though I grew up in Detroit suburbs. Thank you!

  71. Congratulations on a fine re-entry. Sometimes we (and I mean my royal “We”) succeed in setting ourselves up for success after arriving home from travels. Sometimes, not so much. Lessons learned either way. Welcome home. Man, haven’t seen the Falls in a while. Still pretty majestic!

  72. Beautiful post as always.
    It’s the full-pitcher idea. You can’t pour water for others with an empty pitcher – we need to fill our own pitchers and be full enought – abundant and overflowing – to have something to give away. Your abundant water pictures reminded me of that. Well done. When does your next book come out? I think I read somewhere it’s essays that are non-knitting related?

  73. Congrats! You should all be proud of yourselves for self-improvement (I find it never gets enough respect!).
    But wait, no sock- or blanket-at-the-falls picture? Next time!

  74. New to my bucket list… see Niagra falls.
    Love the concept of generosity and making sure you were ready and able to go home and so glad it worked out for you guys. Sounds like a wonderous day.

  75. I am going to make my husband read this. He never gets that I can’t walk straight in the door and start absorbing his stress before I put my bag down.

  76. I was reading an article this morning on perspectives that show you’re growing up, and it looks as though you’re doing a fine job of it. So, next time I’m away on a business trip, I’m going to take inspiration from your seamless re-entry. Instead of crawling in the door and collapsing into bed, leaving my suitcase packed in the corner for another week, and sending the family out in search of fast food, I will try my best to follow in your footsteps.

  77. over my many years on this earth I’ve found that when my surrounds are organized, my mind & body are clear, free & open to just be

  78. Lovely post, Stephanie, and lovely re-entry to family life. I’ve been away visiting a new grandson and using the baby dance technique I learned via your blog (even tho I had 3 children of my own!), and must have channeled you at re-entry time as well. My re-entry to life with my husband was smooth — I put the knitting and electronic toys away and chatted with him the entire return drive home — all 3 hours of it. It has made our first morning/day together enjoyable. Thanks for being able to verbalize the methods and thoughts. And thanks for being you and sharing yourself with us.

  79. When a family member is lost, you miss them. You learn to cherish the ones you have left because one day they will be gone too.
    You learned what I learned Steph. Put aside the little crap and BE with the ones you have left.

  80. Sounds like you and your family all paid attention to each other’s needs…and all on the same page so to speak…Good Job!!

  81. Beautiful pictures of Niagara! For me, that is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places in the world. I would love to live there. The ocean is another great place to get reminded and refreshed. Nature has an awesome way of making a statement, simply. You’re fortunate to be a person who can hear it.
    Happy trails home are the best!

  82. Love in action. What a heart-intelligent family you all are. I must remember ‘generosity’. Bravo all of you.

  83. Oh….. to be able to say that you live a hour and a half cardrive away of the Niagra Falls……
    glad that you all nailed re-entry together 🙂

  84. “it never ceases to fill the part of me that needs to remember the world is amazing, beautiful and bigger than I am”
    Such a beautiful way to describe it 🙂 And it really struck a chord with me. I live not too far from the amazing scenery of North Wales in the UK and every time I revisit, it fills me with peace. Just to see those mountains, hills and valleys and know they will still be here hundreds of years from now, makes me realise just how petty life’s little irritations really are.
    Glad to see your ‘re-entry’ was so peaceful too. How wonderful that you all decided to be generous to each other at the same time 🙂

  85. What a beautiful post. I’m married to a travelling man so this is familiar to me. So satisfying when we are able to figure these things out, and thank goodness for long term, loving relationships that enable us to do so.

  86. “Ode to My Socks” by Pablo Neruda (translated by Robert Bly)
    Mara Mori brought me
    a pair of socks
    which she knitted herself
    with her sheepherder’s hands,
    two socks as soft as rabbits.
    I slipped my feet into them
    as if they were two cases
    knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
    Violent socks,
    my feet were two fish made of wool,
    two long sharks
    sea blue, shot through
    by one golden thread,
    two immense blackbirds,
    two cannons,
    my feet were honored in this way
    by these heavenly socks.
    They were so handsome for the first time
    my feet seemed to me unacceptable
    like two decrepit firemen,
    firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
    of those glowing socks.
    Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
    to save them somewhere as schoolboys
    keep fireflies,
    as learned men collect
    sacred texts,
    I resisted the mad impulse to put them
    in a golden cage and each day give them
    birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
    Like explorers in the jungle
    who hand over the very rare green deer
    to the spit and eat it with remorse,
    I stretched out my feet and pulled on
    the magnificent socks and then my shoes.
    The moral of my ode is this:
    beauty is twice beauty
    and what is good is doubly good
    when it is a matter of two socks
    made of wool in winter.
    Just thought I’d share a beautiful knitterly moment. Enjoy!

  87. A dear friend always says “The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations are the best.” Generosity higher than expectations works too. Thanks for this, Steph.

  88. I was raised in Lewiston and attended school in NF, Ont (right at the base of the Seagram Tower although I think it’s been renamed [probably many times] since then). The photos of “home” are beautiful and made brought back many memories. Looks like you had perfect weather for the drive. Thanks – as always – for sharing.

  89. Crazy as it seems I’m not a knitter but this is why I love your posts and follow your blog….always a good read ! Can’t even remember how I found your blog ??? Fellow NL’er tho.

  90. Congratulations! It sounds, actually, quite wonderful. May all of your future re-entries be at least as pleasant.

  91. I feel like our family is challenged by re-entry on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing this. Generosity. So deeply true.

  92. That is awesome. It’s never too late to be your better self! I take a few moments on my commute home to try to let go of my work self and get ready to be my home self. It really does help me be happier and more present.

  93. Thanks for sharing your successful re-entry! I’m heading out on another business trip tomorrow and have been stressing today about the “even worse” condition the house will be in upon my return – and how to avoid the “witchy Mom” scenario that seems to happen every time I come back from a trip – despite my best intentions to relax and not let it get to me.
    With your good example…this time for sure!

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