When our first child was born, she arrived to a household and family all ready and waiting for her arrival. My husband even cut the grass before we left for the hospital. We attempted to make our son’s arrival as memorable. In the end he arrived ten days late to a pair of exhausted parents and grandparents. His cousin was born just five days after him, so my sister and brother-in-law were also exhausted and my parents stretched thin from trying to share their time. Our daughter had a terrible cold virus that peaked with a high fever the day after we returned from the hospital. We spent the next several days trying to keep her from infecting the new baby. This was not the welcome home we had planned.

I quickly learned that when your family grows you must adjust your ideals for almost everything. I always associate welcome with a sense of calm belonging; a household organized, prepared and content. Arrivals to my home, be they friends, family or guests should feel that their presence has been anticipated and planned for. But since the addition of our son to the family our household has never been the same. Welcome means opening my heart to anyone who comes through my door and offering a smile, along with a small apology for the mess. Sharing a simple meal rather than multi-course planned one. While the outward trappings are still desired and appreciated, for us, welcome has become a matter of those wonderful intangibles that let someone know that they matter. I think my son understands this, hopefully my dinner guests will too.