"There is no one who comes here that does not know this is a true map of the world, with you there in the center, making home for us all."
I think of it because I am pretty sure it was written about my own mother. She is the center of a true map of the world. Or at least, the map of my world.
If everything is going right, home is the place I want to be, because it’s the only place I know of where we can share in my joy. If everything is going wrong, home is the place I want to be, because it’s the only place I know of where I am safe.
As far back as I can remember, our home has been full of people. When I was a child, we had huge pig pickin’s and all our family members and friends and neighbors would come hang out in the back yard to eat and drink and relax.
When my parents split up, my mom moved in with my grandparents for a few years until she was able to buy a house of her own. Their house was a huge two-story home on a large lot with acres of woods and land. My sister, my mom, and I lived in this house with my grandparents and my Aunt Janice. My uncle, his wife, and my cousin lived in a log cabin on the land behind the house. Our neighbor, Julie, was my age, and was at our house every afternoon. My grandmother’s siblings and their families would sometimes come to visit and stay. No matter what time of the day it was, what time of the year it was, there were always people around. It was loud living, and I loved it.
My mom bought our house the summer between my third and fourth grade years. The neighborhood was full of children around our ages, and there was never a shortage of friends to play with. We had block parties for all occasions in the back yard. We pulled out card tables and computer chairs to make room for the entire family to sit during holidays. We don’t live in a big house, but somehow, there has always been enough room for everyone we love.
When I was older, all my friends gathered here. Annual birthday slumber parties were held in my bedroom, and my best friend down the street stayed here several times a week. I don’t know how my mom put up with the sounds of squealing and giggling teenage girls so often. My friends on the football team hung out here before games, energizing themselves with whatever food was in our kitchen. One of our dining room windows was missing a screen, and we would leave that window unlocked for anytime I lost my house key (basically, every day). I would come home from school and find two or three friends sitting in my living room waiting for me. We finally just started leaving the door unlocked so the cops wouldn’t get called if the neighbors saw kids climbing in through our windows.
During college, friends knew our home was always open to visitors. If someone couldn’t make it back home for a holiday, they could stay and eat with us. If we came home for a weekend and partied a little too hard, our house was the safe place where friends could crash to sleep instead of driving. One New Year’s Eve, the cops were called for a party up the street, but they showed up at our house instead because we had so many people spending the night.
When my roommates both moved in with their boys and I had nowhere else to go, I came home. And even though my mom never wanted pets, she let me come home WITH A CAT, who I had adopted during college. More recently, when my uncle had to move to Germany for work for a few years, my mom took in his Rottweiler, Summer. And really, anytime I find an animal in need of rescuing, it ends up here for a little while. I have brought into this house countless kittens, puppies, hamsters, fish, and even a bird, until we could find better options for them.
And though I will move on and out (hopefully sooner rather than later!), I know I will come back here anytime I need to feel at home. I will come back to wherever she is, my mother. Because she is home.
She is the center of the map of my life.
Happy Mother’s Day, Momma. Thank you for the safety and the noise and the open doors and the people and the love. Thank you for making it home, wherever we are. I love you!