One of my guilty pleasures happens on Sunday nights on ABC. I'm talking about "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition." I really love this show. My girls and I are practically addicts. I've always loved houses, so that's part of it. When I was quite young, my dad would sometimes buy me house plan magazines, and I could spend hours staring at them, imagining the life I would lead in each different house, complete with a family I'd made up for the purpose of populating the house plans. Later I began to design my own homes, though I'm quite a pathetic artist, and math has always been my downfall. So you can see I was fairly successful at this 'hobby.' My ever helpful dad, though, thought my interest in houses made architecture a perfect fit for me. He set up a meeting with the chairman of architecture at WSU--whom, of course, Dad already knew well. Dad was very concerned that my desired areas of study wouldn't actually parlay into a 'living' for me. He was a smart man, my dad. I went to that meeting, listened to Dr. Scott encourage and discourage me all at once (the math, of course, and attention to detail--I was/am far too right-brained to manage details most of the time). Later, I told my dad that it was better that I not attempt what he wanted for me, rather than fail him or myself. So I carried on in English and Biblical Studies, and left the math to those who can actually do it!
I still like houses, but that's not the real draw of Extreme Home Makeover. Certainly it's not the house that makes me cry every week, though some of them are stunning! It's not the house that makes me tape the show when I'm going to miss it. I do like much in those houses. I'm fascinated by some of the gadgets, some amazing designs. However, sometimes some of those theme rooms of the family's children seem a little too over the top. Six flatscreen TVs on the wall of the bedroom of a girl who wants to be a news anchor? Sports themed rooms--every single week, I think!. Once a college student told the designer that she likes the colors of the ocean, and returned home to a complete beach-themed room, complete with a dock-bed and grass roofed hut in one corner.
It's the stories that draw me in every week. Today's family was made up of 11 sons--three biological, five brothers from Haiti and three from Toledo's inner city. E and I were both crying before the first commercial tonight--about three minutes in. The mom of this family has a disease which makes her soft tissue rip, and her joints to pop out of joint. She almost died a while ago (hard to tell the chronology!), but she is very glad the stroke and everything else happened to her, because when she thought she was dying, she had the chance to tell each of her eleven sons exactly how she feels about them, what her hopes and dreams for each of them are. "Many moms don't have that chance," she said. "And now, for their whole lives, they'll know how I feel and that, in the last moments of my life, I'll be thinking of them." Wow!
With tears running down my face, I thought of what I'd say to my kids. I'd like to think they, too, know what they mean to me, that they know there's absolutely nothing they could do that will change that. And even, that in my leave-taking from this earth, they will be on my mind. They and Beve and God, to whom I'll be going. And here's another secret for you, and for them--about eight years ago, when I went to the British Isles for a month, before I left, I deliberately wrote letters for each of my beloveds. I'm such a reluctant flyer (especially then, when they were small, and the losing of a parent would be a blueprint for remodeling everything ever after. And don't tell me how much safer air travel is than car travel. When a car has engine trouble, you pull off the road. When a plane does, you fall out of the sky). I hid those in the top drawer of my dresser. And they've been there ever since. I haven't looked at them since I wrote them, but they've been there so long, my dresser would feel empty without those envelopes sitting there. If/when they're ever opened, my children will discover not who they are to me today, but who they were to me when they actually were children. They'll see what God and I imagined for their lives.
But that's not enough. For any of us. We should saturate our children with love, with the knowledge that we're in their corner, their headcheerleaders. Not just by our actions, but by words that they can replay when other messages from the world, from the enemy, shout at them. I'm crazy about my children. They're the most amazing humans ever created. Isn't that the way you feel about yours? Don't assume they know. Pretend it's the last night of your life and tell them.
E, J, SK, are you listening? I love you.