This morning, my husband and I dropped our two girls off at his parents for a rare full-day-baby-sitting duty before heading off for a child-free Valentine’s Day. As we backed down their driveway sans children, the sight of the in laws waving us off on the steps of their 1960s Australian cottage struck me. It was a pretty sight. Roses waving in the slight breeze, newly installed Victorian scroll wrought iron gates, lovingly tended immaculate garden, bricked driveway, tinkling fountain. Gorgeous.
It struck me that we are blessed to have this “hub”. My husband called it the “home base”. To the children, it’s ‘Nanna and Granddad’s‘. For my in laws, their three children and spouses and little children, it’s the gathering place. The meeting place, the dropping off and picking up of children. It’s the place we might rock up at that another family member’s car is parked there, an accidental family gathering.
I wondered to my husband, if our children and their children will have that hub with us as future patriarchs and matriarchs. It was then, that I realised, with some sadness and regret, that ‘hub’ would be a different one.
My in laws married in 1974 barely out of their teens. After two years of living with my father in law’s parents, they moved 45 mins away to where they could afford at that time. For $28k (a fortune back then), they bought the house. It was a tiny, sad 3 bedroom cottage with untended gardens and very very humble living conditions. Over the 38-year period of residency, they have added to it a large deck, a large extension, one bedroom and the gardens can now grace any magazine. All this, mostly done on a very tight budget.
Even now, all their free time and money is spent on their home and garden. They don’t travel, they don’t dine on expensive food and wine. They don’t have fancy cars…
They put their money and savings into building their idea of a beautiful home, a home that can serve as a hub, a meeting place for their family.
While that way is very positive in some ways, Andrew and I don’t see that for ourselves. I think our ‘hub’ isn’t going to be a physical one like my in laws have.
Our children’s children will not all get to know the same floorboard that creaks if you stand on it. They won’t get to know which paving stone wobbles or the way the door will bang shut or the sneaky way to get into the house if all external doors are locked.
It wouldn’t be a physical hub that our children would grow up to adulthood; where their children will get to know.
I just cannot imagine living in one same location for the next 25 years. Andrew and I are too hungry for experiences (not short holiday trips, mind you). We want to live in Europe for a bit. Then different parts of Australia, then Canada, USA, Scotland… the lot.
Perhaps the hub of us, is where our arms are… rather than where our 25-year home is.
These days, as we outgrow our home and as our income gets bigger, we tend to look for greener grass, rather than to make our home better and prettier. Just look at their lifestyles of the rich and famous… I think the only people I know to live in the one home for more than 5 years at a time are Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart! Everyone else seems to sell up for better pastures, even though where they left is stunning and beautiful.
But I do think that providing our children with a ‘hub’, a ‘home base’ is important. It gives us and our children and children’s children, a place to call ‘home’. For now, I think, that will be at Nanna and Granddad’s.
Until we find our forever home.
What do you think? Are hubs important? Will you aim to be a hub to your children and your children’s children?