Thursday, June 19, 2008

Legos in My Living Room

I am expecting a friend this morning, and I hope she isn’t shocked at the condition of my home. I actually love my home. I love to have people over, too. Guests are welcome anytime, and I’ll even promise to offer a cup of tea and something sweet to eat. The house will be warm, the bathrooms will be clean enough that no one will suffer embarrassment, and it’s likely that my bed will even be made, should anyone care to peek in my room. While I’ll be able to offer a comfortable place to sit, I suppose I feel the need to warn guests about the Legos that will be scattered across the living room floor. You see, it is not that I am an inept housekeeper. My children are not so spoiled that they don’t know how to clean up after themselves. I have learned to love the Legos in my living room. They remind me of where I am in life, and what really matters. To tell you the truth, as my boys are now eleven and twelve, I am already dreading the day when Legos no longer adorn the floor. But when that time comes, I will (hopefully) move to embrace the next stage as wholeheartedly as I embrace the one in which I am now. Perhaps in the years to come I will be blessed with a living room overtaken by teenagers watching action movies, or covered with guitars, drums, and sheet music, or wired for computer game designing, or hosting fantasy football parties. But for now, you will simply find Legos in my living room. I let them be because of a lesson I learned from a regret-filled stranger who wrote a letter to Dear Abby.

When I was a teenager, young and invincible, my mother had me read a Dear Abby letter from a woman who was recently widowed. She wrote to tell how through 50 years of marriage she had nagged her husband about all sorts of things…leaving lights on, leaving shoes in the middle of the floor, leaving cupboard doors opened. Now that he was gone, she longed for those once annoying evidences of his presence. I don’t know that I pondered the column too deeply as an adolescent, but I have thought of it many times since. Sometimes I can find myself starting to huff when David leaves his jacket out or dresser drawers opened, and then that Dear Abby column comes to mind, and I try to change my attitude. I hang his jacket in the closet while thanking God for the joy I find in my lifelong companion. I close his dresser drawers, aware that the act is but a small chore compared with the delight I still feel in having him for my roommate. Every now and then, I still nag or sigh or huff a bit. And David mostly takes it all in stride, kind and gentle man that he is. But the other day, when I began a minor tirade about the books and papers strewn across the living room and spilling over to the dining room table, he looked at me sideways, with a gleam in his eye, and said, “You’ll miss these little messes when I’m gone!”

And he is right. And soon enough I will miss the Legos in my living room, too. In the meantime, I celebrate them. The evidence of the presence of my boys is more valuable to me than a spotless floor. Oh yeah, well, once a week we do scoop them all up so I can vacuum, and sometimes, like for Christmas and Thanksgiving, the boys actually put the Legos away in their rooms. And it is nice for a while. Like having company is nice, for a while. But when a few days have passed, and the Legos have found their way back down to the living room, I know that things are back to normal in my house, and I am content.

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