The House that Built Me

Hey Friends, 

I hope this message finds you well and navigating the new year with health and contentedness. 

Last week, I flew to Iowa, where I grew up. Above, you’ll see a picture of my childhood home. Iowa will always feel like home; but in all honestly, I haven’t lived there since I was eighteen. Oregon is home now. Nonetheless, I drove my daughter past my childhood home and was greeted by a flood of memories. Have you heard “The House that Built Me” by Miranda Lambert? I always think of this house when I hear that song. 

First, I remember my childhood home being so much bigger. I think it’s because I was so much smaller at the time. Second, I immediately had a sense of felt safety. Felt safety is what we experience when we feel both emotionally and physically safe. It’s the last house my dad and mom lived in together until I was almost twelve. I have no memories of sadness, loneliness, or anger in that home, only happy memories. Finally, I had a flood of childhood memories. We played outside until dusk, built snow forts in the winter, and delivered newspapers on our bikes. I remember sticky, hot summers, my childhood dog, and falling asleep to the sound of my dad watching football on TV. 

It made me reflect on what truly builds a home. It’s the people who live there. The memories that are created. The love that’s shared. Having lived in so many places and several homes, the change and transition has created a great deal of adaptability for me. But here’s what I’m sure of: I’ve experienced love, safety, and belonging in tiny apartments. And I have felt lonely, sad, and empty in a gorgeous, huge home. I have felt content in tiny studios with my cat. I’ve built memories in apartments, mobile homes, mansions, farms, cities, and studios across the country. And what I’ve realized is that home is about who’s in it and how you feel with them. 

I’ve always wanted my children to feel like home is a place they want to return. To feel safe and connected. I want home to be a space where mistakes are made and forgiven. Messes are welcome. And unconditional love resides, despite money or material goods. 

So, when I look at this sweet home in Iowa, tears come to my eyes. From Miranda Lambert:

“I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here, it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in, I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothin’ but a memory
From the house that built me.”

Thanks, sweet childhood home. Thank you for reminding me of what built me and what I want to continue to build for anyone who enters my home.

How about you? What do you want your children to remember from home? What do you want people to feel when they enter your space? Let me know!

Want more? Subscribe for weekly insights from Dr. Amy here!