Home with the O'Meara Family in Clarendon Hills During 'Shelter in Place'
By Bridget O'Meara
Growing up, my dad always burned scented candles and piped music throughout the house. My earliest memories are of
The Carpenters and ABBA. Then, he went through a phase of Christopher Cross, Mary Black and U2, eventually settling on classical musicians. And of course, around the holidays, non-stop Christmas classics were on the dial.
In the summers when my dad was still cutting the grass himself, the lawn was always boxed. My mom’s gardens rivaled those pictured in her gardening magazines. The garage floor was immaculate and every yard accessory was neatly stored behind cabinets my dad built and painted himself.
The basement fridge was always stocked with what seemed like every imaginable type of pop. The kitchen counter usually housed a tin or two of my mom’s baked goods, and she kept a hidden stash of candy in the napkin drawer (she still does). The house usually smelled of a turkey, roast or new dish my parents had cooked together drawing on some new skill or recipe they picked up at a recent cooking class.
And there were the special occasions when my mom made Grandma Frances’ rolls. She reserved half the dough for butter horns and the other half for cinnamon rolls. I often helped her place a dollop of butter on each triangular cutout before rolling them up. Well before it became vogue to sustain from carbs, my brothers, sister and I devoured these rolls.
A sure scene in the family room was my dad at the end of the workday with the newspaper hiding his face and our Schnauzer Gretel sitting in his lap. She was never invited into his lap, but he never shoed her away either. My mom usually had a load or two of laundry she was folding on the kitchen table while trying to finish the day’s crossword puzzle—calling out to my dad, “Who’s a pop star, four letters and starts with A?”
I guess it was more than the ambiance of home that always made me feel good. It was the sense of comfort and security I felt. I always knew I was loved and protected within the walls of my childhood home. I was held accountable to high standards, but I knew I had family that had my back.
Now quarantined with my three boys and husband in the home we’ve made our own, I find myself channeling my parents more so than ever before—trying to make our home a safe haven—a place that feels secure and comfortable for our boys.
I’m baking more than I typically do, trying to stock the cupboards with “good” snacks, playing our favorite Pandora channels, doing my best to cook a variety of tasty meals, encouraging meaningful dinnertime conversation, suggesting activities to fill the time gaps, and lighting scented candles.
And perhaps more important than all of that, l’m loving the people around me and trying to be a calming force and a source of hope that all will be OK in these uncertain times.
Bridget O’Meara resides in Clarendon Hills with her husband Brian, three boys and two labradoodles.
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