Having a front porch is important to me. My grandmother had a front porch. She ran a boarding house in Bluefield, West Virginia. The front porch was full of rockers and gliders for the boarders to use and whenever my family travelled to West Virginia I remember sitting on that front porch and playing on those enormous chairs. At our home we had a smaller front porch. It was a gathering place for the neighbors. Mom and dad would go out there with their coffee in the morning or in the evening and read the paper and invariably someone would stop over; Mrs. Geiger or Mrs. Rockware, and occasionally those informal gatherings would turn into an evening of dinner or cocktails with the neighbors.
I remember coming home after my dad died, sitting with my mom on the front porch with coffee and telling my mom:
“This is my favorite place in the world.”
Since at the time I was living in Europe, travelling to fairytale places, experiencing more exotic adventures and complicated life experiences than my mother had ever dreamed of; she was a little taken aback.
“Why is New Jersey your favorite place in the world?” my mom asked.
“Not New Jersey mom, this porch, right here, drinking coffee with you; this is my favorite place in the world.”
Mom just smiled and took a sip of her coffee.
When it came time to build our forever home in Virginia, my one request of the design was a front porch. I got one. It wraps all the way around the side of the house and on nice evenings you’ll sometimes find me out there with one or more of the boys. Our favorite times to go out are during thunder and lightning storms. We sit and watch the trees blow, share stories about God moving the furniture or bowling in heaven to create the thunder, and laugh when the wind blows the rain in on us chasing us all inside.
One particular afternoon, I was sitting outside with Benjamin. He was seven at the time. As we were rocking in our chairs I asked Benjamin:
“So Ben, how’s your childhood going?”
He thought for barely a moment.
“Good mom thanks.” he said, thumbing his game boy.
“Good” I said.
A moment later I asked,
“Are you happy Benjamin?”
“Yup” he replied quickly, swinging his legs as he continued looking down.
Continuing on (cause lord knows I have to press),
“Do you feel like your momma and daddy love you Benjamin? When you think about our family does it make you feel safe and warm?” I continued.
“Pretty much mom; pretty much.” Ben answered almost without thinking.
“Ben,” I said, “You’re answering my questions pretty quickly.”
I bristled, thinking perhaps he wasn’t being serious enough.
“Mom,” he said back, looking at me for the first time in our conversation,
“You’re asking pretty easy questions.”
I kept rocking and broke into a smile. Sometimes things are just not that complicated.
Parenting Tip of the Day:
Make sure you are a story teller to your family. There’s a great book called “The Red Tent” that relays the importance of the role of women as storytellers and I think is worth the reading time. In some cultures, the “storyteller” is regaled as key to the survival of the people. Have your own story telling time. Everyone has something that should be passed down.