Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: Making It Home

What does it mean to be home? In the opening chapter of Making It Home, Emily Wirenga thinks of the homeless woman who she could only buy a meal for, the years she spent living in Africa and Korea, and the way the clutter and chaos of living with her small sons makes her feel at home.

Maybe it's just that Emily and I have some things in common or maybe it's her lovely way of writing the most mundane of moments into poetry, but this book resonated with me very powerfully. Like so many of us, she puts other first - she cares for her husband and children, runs their household, cares for her parents and in-laws, and the family even takes in foster children for a time. Giving of your time and love is a wonderful thing to do, but it is also very draining. Like many parents who are home with their kids part-time or full-time (myself included), Emily wonders what she is aside from being a parent. If she isn't working, if she isn't making art or publishing words on a page, who is she?

This is a very honest book. Emily writes about her feelings of inadequacy in her home and her relationships. She is living in the middle of generations, as she tries to find healing for the wounds inflicted by her own parents and vowing that she will do things differently with her children. It is, of course, never quite that simple, and she also finds the moments where her parents did their best and grieves over her own mistakes with her kids. The ability to make mistakes and know you are still loved is so crucial in the making of a home and a family. As Emily puts it, "...home needs to be a safe place. A place to fall."

In a culture where it is frowned upon to admit just how exhausting and soul-crushing parenting can be, Making It Home feels like the relief of admitting, "oh thank goodness, me too." In some ways, this book feel like an accounting of the everyday - it's a record of temper tantrums and bath times, finding favorite blankies and taking one more deep breath. But it also feels like a glimpse into the most important moments of life. Wirenga writes with beautiful clarity that is both heartbreaking and uplifting, as she searches for ways to connect with God in the midst of the chaos, teach her small boys, support and love her husband, and take the time and care to see who she is becoming in the middle of it all.

Making It Home
By Emily T. Wirenga
Baker Publishing Group September 2015
224 pages
Read via Netgalley

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