Writing on the Walls

Marla, my friend, was frustrated that her well-behaved 3 year old had taken a red dry erase marker and colored all over the place. “Red” she mused. “Why did it have to be red?” all over his arms, his toys, and most frustrating the newly painted walls. My mind traveled back; back to California in 1995.

My parents were forced to sell my childhood home. Dad had been out of a job for a long time, and we had to go, so we were packing. I was now an adult, helping out mom and dad. Mom was bawling. I said to mom, “It’s just a house mom. It’s not going to be our home anymore. It’ll be o.k. We’ll make a new home.” Those words have haunted me repeatedly for the past 14 years. My understanding was so limited.

Mom and I stepped into the now converted living room. A wall had been knocked out of my childhood bedroom. We started removing furniture and there it was! We found the memory right behind the couch. It was crayon. It was on the wall. It was the coloring contest that mom could never bring herself to paint over. My brother and sister and I had been quiet in my bedroom. Mom knew we were up to no good. She came in to find us beaming with pride. We weren’t afraid of mom; we wanted her to judge whose picture was the best. She proclaimed Adam’s “Superman” the most creative, but immediately complimented his younger sisters on their handiwork also.

And so the story goes. Mom knew how to love kids. She would never break a tender heart over some crayon. A wall was never worth it.

I now have three little ones. Mom’s wisdom is always with me. I am not as patient as her, but I want to be. I try and keep my walls clean because I want to have a nice home. But, honestly, when all is said and done, I want my home to be a place where I raised character, not wall perfection.

It’s my dream. I want to build a home where there is a room just for writing on the walls. This home would be a place where kids would feel loved. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be “home”. I want to carry on my mom’s legacy. I want to be a mother who creates a fantasy world for each tenderhearted child. What a dream.



  1. Just this morning I discovered pen scribblings on the wall behind a door, I actually chuckled to myself. But then I came downstairs and yelled at the girls for making a mess with water all over the kitchen. Will I ever learn?A wall hanging a neighbor has says “a clean home is a life misspent”. Someday I’ll remember that.I remember when I was younger wishing my mom was a little more like your mom.

  2. I agree 100% ……. A home should be a place of comfort, love & refuge. I try to be the same with my house (keeping walls clean etc..) but when all is said & done at the end of the day & I am truly grateful for my children & for their creativeness. <----- is that a word? Love you Al keep up the great work!

  3. What a sweet story, really, it is. I am right now feeling a little guilty about getting frustrated with that kind of stuff. I want my house to feel like that too, I’m just not quite there yet!!

  4. Haven’t we all written on a wall? When we were moving out of our beautiful New England Colonial home nestled in the woods of Maine..my Mom gasped as the furniture was being moved out of the grand living room (adults only room). The wallpaper was esquisite with stately mansions and women with parasols under moss laden trees. I had sweetly added a cat to each window looking out upon the fields. Black magic marker was the choice of poison. I remember her leaning over the couch pulled out from the wall with the movers and laughing…laughing until she cried…then realizing that this was her little childrens house that they loved so.

  5. So so true..my friend has a saying. “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” I love it…I think I should cross stich that what do you think

  6. This is a great story! Kuddos to your mom for not getting upset, I need to learn that. Your dream was way more sentimental than mine, I just want our student loans to go away!

  7. Alice this is so beautifully written — and such a good reminder of what is really important — and what is not.It reminds me of something silly — when Nicholas was about a year and just walking, he would go to look out our kitchen window and decided gnawing on the wood blinds was a good idea. Our blinds have little teeth marks and Matt thought it was just the worst thing ever. Secretly, I always thought it was cute. They are just blinds — and I still smile every time I see those little marks.

  8. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. May I repay the compliment by saying how much I enjoyed your post alsoGood Luck in the Contest!

  9. love it, and loved your mom’s insight and vision. Sadly,it is not mine and I would just put up huge butcher block paper and they could contest away.I like that there is chalkboard paint that you can paint walls with. I do not like that chalk dust gets everywhere. So, how about hanging dry erase board on the walls, I could do that. Your kids are so lucky to have you as their mom!! I felt saw raw emotion in this post!

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