Due to SpouseBUZZ LIVE San Diego, we didn't announce a topic for the monthly What's Your Story contest in May, but we're back on track now. April's topic was, "How I Make a House a Home." Our winner was Stephanie Abbott. Stephanie is a new milspouse and below is her winning essay:
I am new to the military lifestyle. I have yet to experience the "joy" of a PCS since my husband is still in training and isn't due to finish until July. So, I may not be qualified to answer this. But, perhaps I am.
In the almost 6 years we have been married, we have moved 4 times. We've lived in a tiny, one bedroom apartment, a 20 year-old mobile home, a house with a sunken floor, and finally to our current home... a beautiful 2 bedroom with a huge backyard and a covered porch complete with swing. We rented this house with the idea that we would possibly buy it next year. Finally, after moving from place to place, I thought we were home. In my mind, a home is where you put down roots. It's a place that you raise a family, grow old, and never leave. Home is supposed to LAST. I thought we were done with moving and at last, we were home to stay. Then, as I was mapping out my vegetable and flower garden for next summer, my husband says to me, "Honey, I want to enlist." What?
And so, three months later, I am waiting anxiously to find out where the Army will send us. Gone are my dreams of a garden and putting down roots. No more spacious backyard, no more covered front porch, no more huge basement full of tacky, outdoor Christmas decorations. We will probably, once again, be apartment dwellers and I have been given the task of paring down our belongings. It's amazing what you accumulate, especially with two young children. As I began this unpleasant task, I started to cry over the thought of giving up our home. There will be no place to put the light up [or the] nativity scene at Christmas time. We can't possibly have enough room, or weight allowance, for all 3,000 books that line the shelves upstairs. And surely we won't have a porch to hang the handmade wooden swing we got for our 5th Wedding Anniversary.
However, as I was unloading another van load of stuff at Goodwill, it hit me. A home isn't a place. It's not a house, or the possessions within it. Yes, it's comforting to be surrounded by familiar things, but that isn't what makes a home. What are these things without my husband? Or my children? They are just things. A house is just a place to shelter me from the elements. Our possessions are temporary and expendable. A family is not.
Home is snuggling up next to my husband on a chilly night. Home is the sound of my children's laughter. Home is the moments we share together and the memories we create. It doesn't matter where these moments take place, only that they do.
So, I've come to realize that wherever we end up, whatever type of dwelling we live in, I will be home. Just as long as I have my husband and our children with me, I will be happy and content.
"Welcome to the sisterhood," Stephanie. Great essay! Your prize package will be delivered soon.
We'll be announcing June's topic next week.