My Dearest Children,
How deeply I love all eight of you. It’s amazing how the heart has this infinite capacity to love.
Over a decade ago, we settled down in our first home. After bouncing from one apartment to the next, our family—mom, dad, 2 children and one on the way—took root. And for 12 years, those roots nestled deeply into that home, and our family grew.
Home has always been an important issue to me. Growing up as a mixed race child who was born in Florida, lived in South Carolina, but whose family was from Louisiana wasn’t easy. I was displaced. I had no real connection and no sense of belonging. I was viewed as an outsider, and what’s worse is I felt like one.
I remember looking at my mother as she cried while watching The Wiz. She sang along to Diana Ross’Home, tears streaming down her cheeks. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized that my mama, too, was on a search for home. And deeper still, her mother before her, my grandmother, your great-grandmother, after losing both parents at a young age only to be passed around from one uncaring relative to the next, had been on this same quest.
You see children, this never-ending search for home has been a generational curse, and I don’t want that for you. That is why establishing a place for all of you to call home is so important to me.
But now the time has come for our family to move, to leave our home, to be uprooted, planted elsewhere. I have wondered if this move would damage us. Will the new ground provide us with the nutrients we need? Will the shock of a move prevent us from producing good fruits? Will the sadness of missing home cause us to guard our hearts, never reopening them to the possibility of a new one?
As I walked through our old home, each empty room that once housed so much love, I wondered if I taught you all enough. I wondered if I really shared what home means…what it means to me, what it should mean to you.
As I walked through our old home, each empty room that once housed so much love, I reminisced, scenes passing through my mind. And I wondered what stories this house would share If Only Walls Could Talk.
If walls could talk, they would tell you stories of love, laughter and lessons.
If walls could talk, they would tell you the beautifully turbulent love story of a young, perfectly imperfect couple who grew stronger with each test and trial, never allowing the harsh winds of life to topple them.
If walls could talk, they would share the joy felt as each new addition was carried over the threshold.
If walls could talk, they would tell you of the nights I walked into your rooms and prayed over each of you.
They would tell you of the tears of worry I cried when you were ill.
They would tell you the exact number of fevers broken, ouchies kissed and bedtime stories read.
If walls could talk, they would tell you the exact number of Hot Wheels cars that were driven across their surfaces.
They would tell you stories of Family Movie Nights and tickle fights. They would tell you of afternoons filled with never-ending Knock-Knock jokes, and how I would say, “That’s it! No more knock-knock jokes,”only to have one of you launch right into one.
Because of all of the times I sent you to “face the wall,”those walls know the exact descriptions of each of your faces to include the specific placement of each tiny freckle and mole. Because of Timeout, they’llnever forget you.
If walls could talk, they would tell you the exact number of “I love you’s” spoken, birthday candles blown out, pancake dinners made and laundry loads washed, dried and stored away.
If walls could talk, they would tell you how each of you possess at least one special characteristic that you inherited from me. Brandon, you are loyal. Noah, you are conscientious. Lauryn, you are creative. John-Paul, you are friendly. Allen-Michael, you are intelligent. Thomas, you are sensitive. Kourtney, you are strong. Chloe, you are kind-hearted. In seeing and loving you all, I have learned to see and love myself.
If walls could talk, they would tell you that they are only walls, and that neither they, nor the foundation or roof that hold them together are truly home. They would tell you that although Glenda in The Wiz is a fictional character, the words that Lena Horne spoke as she portrayed that role are true,“If we know ourselves, we’re always home…anywhere.”
I want all eight of you to know home is where the heart is. There is always enough room, plenty of space…an infinite capacity for love.
As I write this letter to you, I reflect on my own mama. And I see her, searching for a place of belonging, tears streaming down her cheeks, as she sings the words that I had seen her sing so many times before:
“And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find a world full of love like yours, like mine…like home.”
With Love and Home in my Heart,
How do you define home? What do you want your children to know about finding a place of belonging?