'Dream house' is in the eye of beholder

Every home has a story to tell.

We live in an orange brick 1960s colonial revival. Our Realtor affectionately called it the "Leave It to Beaver House." Our house was well-loved, but it took time for it to really feel like it was ours. A few months after we moved in, I realized I had severely underestimated how long my painting projects would take with two preschoolers in tow. My house dreams were beginning feel a bit deflated. I was worried that my daughters might never nap enough to allow me to fully unpack and finish.

Then one day, I was pulling out of the carpool line when I heard a small voice from the back seat.

"Mom are we going somewhere?"

It was my youngest daughter, Alyssa, who is perpetually hoping that we will go somewhere new. However, before I could answer her question, my oldest daughter, Gabby, chimed in.

"We are going somewhere. We are going to the dream house, right mom?"

Her response surprised me. Perhaps my girls have seen a few too many Barbie episodes on Netflix. However, the idea that they consider our house the "Dream House" gave me pause for thought.

Before that moment, although I liked our house, I had never pulled in my driveway and thought "Dream House." As I reflected on our conversation, I realized my daughter was right.

Great houses come in all shapes and sizes. I still fondly remember the 1930s home where I grew up, with an attic bedroom that my sister and I shared. Childhood homes have a way of shaping us like few other places do. Maybe that's why they are often remembered with such love and nostalgia.

Now in the craziness of 2020, our house has become more than just a home. I find myself cherishing it even more as I watch it take on so many new and unexpected roles. The kitchen doubles as a school room and the basement has become an office, a greenhouse and a gymnasium. The back yard has been transformed into a camping site, a fashion show runway, a water park and a sports field.

On any given day there are papers, markers, art projects, pillow forts and Lego creations happening everywhere. One week this summer I even let my daughters turn the dining room into Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The costumes and paper decorations made quite a creative mess, but our dining room looked more magical than ever.

Sometimes I wonder what stories my daughters will tell about this year. Spending so much time at home certainly has its challenging moments. Then in the middle of this stuck-at-home craziness, I remember that moment of carpool line wisdom.

What I learned from my little back seat drivers is sometimes a "Dream House" is more a matter of a perspective. Now more than ever I am grateful for our home and the all dreams it inspires.

- Amy McCauley of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].