A Good Home

Written by Josie Pate

Inspired by “A Mother’s Work” in Braiding Sweetgrass


This book is about a mom on a mission to make all her daughters’ dreams come true in their new home. Little does she know, she will discover her old passion for ecology, or her daughters’ love for all things outdoor, but the truth of building a good home, a good heart.

Have you ever considered what it would be like to pick up your life, not only your own life, but the lives of your two daughters. Well, welcome to my journey of moving and building a good home for my girls. Not only am I taking into consideration the mortgages and school districts, but what the girls have dreamed up for their wishlist as well. I am honestly finding their list to be quite intimidating, but I shall continue searching.

The search continued until I found the home that would be perfect for us girls. What to others may appear as a dreary farmhouse, to me we had struck gold. With the incredible trees surrounding the expansive property, a pond in the back and not to mention the incredibly darling room with purple walls, this was the house we were going to turn into a home, a good home. Checking off all the things on my wishlist but most importantly the girls’ too, I was excited for what this place had in store for us, however something wasn’t quite what it seemed.

The pond out back. I don’t think I have ever seen a pond so green and full of algae in my life and I was quickly followed by the emotions of disappointment over the pond situation which was met by the girl’s optimism, claiming it was not as bad as it seemed yet they too would agree that they would much rather swim elsewhere than step into the pond. This one thing was bound to be imperfect because everything else had been, however instead of walking away from the pond feeling discouraged about the home I was building, I left encouraged because although it was imperfect it was still good to be with my girls in our new home.

My encouragement with our new home only grew, DUCKLINGS! The girls’ faces lit up the moment they saw them and I knew from there that I could not disappoint. That’s what it took to build a good home right? Give these girls everything they wanted, within reason of course, to ensure they loved their new home. The ducks were a great lesson for the girls and for myself of nurturing these animals. That’s when it hit me… this new home we were building was not only a dream come true, but an incredible opportunity for learning! For goodness sake, I am an ecologist, someone who studies the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.

This led to a series of discoveries and ideas I had for me and my girls to learn! We were going to spend our time settling into our new home, learning about the way the ducklings interact with the pond versus the way the geese did. We will also learn about how the ducks we raised grew up without a mother figure and how that shifted their survival.

We spent the time exploring, learning, growing and answering questions. In the midst of all of this our new house was becoming a home! It reminded me of what my grandma always used to tell me, “ It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.” And that is just what was happening in this place.

The girls shared their learning and findings everyday as we sat around the dinner table. Their laughs filled the house with joy, their discoveries filled it with a sense of adventure, and the knowledge they collected filled the house with some great wisdom from all. Yes this house had everything the girls were looking for, but little did we know it would mean so much to all of us and the ways it would shift our perspective about certain things. Our house was coming to life with all that the girls and I were doing and learning.

What was once a dreary farmhouse was now a vibrant, full of life HOME, and if I do say so myself this was a GOOD one, too, a forever home, where there is more growing to do both intellectually, but most importantly in our hearts.


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Humanizing Science through STEAM Challenges Copyright © 2021 by E.J. Bahng and John M. Hauptman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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