When our young people joined our household I felt like there was this period of time when I ‘danced around’ certain phrases, words or subjects for fear of upsetting them or making them feel defensive. I actually blogged way back when they first arrived about ‘Fostering Faux Pas’ and how I’d used the sentence “let’s go home” when they came out of school one day where I became very aware that, at that time, my house was not their ‘home’. However, over time that has changed and, looking at the dictionary definition of ‘home’ I’d say that we would qualify as providing that now.
noun: home; plural noun: homes
- 1. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household
I’ve never hidden the fact that I feel all the feelings. I’m one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and if my mouth doesn’t say then my face definitely shows it. I’m also honest (I like to believe) and that’s why I can say, without fear of repercussion or judgement, that when my young people first arrived my house had never felt less like a home. Fireworks didn’t go off when they stepped out of the car and my heart didn’t feel a huge surge of love as they came into the kitchen. I felt scared and worried and nervous and a little lost. And that feeling really did last quite a while. I look back on those days and, quite honestly, I shudder. There was so much unknown, for all of us, and so much emotion in the house that I found myself wanting to be anywhere but ‘my home’. But, as time moved on, as it does, and we found routine and trust and stability I began to see changes. They were minute at first; five minutes of calm playing or a meal time where we chatted instead of eating in near silence. Over time, these small changes became large ones and as we all found our place in the house it began to feel a little more like home.
I will never forget the first time I heard the word ‘home’ spoken by one of our young people. We had arrived back from the school run and as I reversed the car in the drive, tiny 8, from the back, sighed and said quietly, “home sweet home”. I froze for a second and then carried on reversing as if nothing had happened but, for the first time, our house had been referred to as his ‘home’. It was a tiny thing that meant a massive amount. To both of us. His sense of security was growing and my feeling of wanting to create this space they could feel comfortable in was satisfied.
My heart still does a flutter when I hear the phrases “let’s go home” or “we are at home” spoken by my young people. It’s a clarification for me that no matter what has been happening that day and whoever has fallen out with who or who has annoyed who, that they now see this as home. More and more I realise that actually, home isn’t necessarily a place, it’s a feeling. A feeling of being loved, being safe and being wanted. And if we have provided this for our young people then my job here is done.