Many years ago I was sitting on my front porch having coffee with my mom. I said to her:
“This is my favorite place in the world.”
She was surprised.
“New Jersey?” she asked.
“No”, I said glancing around.
“This porch right here; in this spot next to you.”
Fast forward 20 years and now I sit on my own front porch. The one I shared with her is gone. I don’t “go home” any more. It’s weird really, when both your parents are gone and there’s that moment you realize that “home” isn’t someplace else. It’s the spot you create for your children where you are. You’re the grown up, the center, the hearth. You have become home.
One of my must haves when we built this house was a wraparound porch. I remember porches were always important from back when I visited my grandmother’s house in Bluefield, Virginia. She had one of those old porch couches on a slide. It was wide enough for about five of us to sit on.
We could make it slide back and forth just by moving our legs and after about three back and forth movements it would invariably hit the house. That would happen once or twice before my grandmother would come out and chase us off the swing; but those first few moments of intense motion were absolutely exhilarating to a five year old visiting her southern cousins.
The boys and I have spent many a thunderstorm out on our front porch; wrapped in blankets and watching the lightening. We’d sit and rock and feel the wind whip around the corner of the house. Occasionally we’d lose power and of course that only increased the excitement. We’d count the time between the lightening and the sound of the thunder and decide whether the storm was coming or going.
They’d be just on the edge of terror but being wrapped in a blanket, rocking and counting seemed to make it all a bit easier to bear. Even now that they are young adults we come out and sit in the rockers. We don’t sit as long and they’re not scared of the thunder anymore but it’s still fun. Sometimes we look at the stars or plug in silly porch blowup figures I have for the holidays. We rock while the air pump sounds off, the small light inside the blowup turns on and the holiday figure grows into focus.
Sitting on my front porch is a sure sign Spring is in the air. Spring on the East Coast is unique and beautiful. The trees of the woods I live in, and always give up for dead about mid-January, start to wake up their newest leaves. The leaves are almost lime in color; small and young. It’s their season to reach toward the sun. The phlox blooms a bright pinkish purple and white cones stretch up from the laurel. I can’t wait to smell the azaleas and lilacs in the coolness of the mornings while I sit with a blanket and enjoy a cup of coffee.
This is home now. When my boys say “I’m going home” to their friends, this is where they’ll come. They’ll join me on the porch and look around the property they’ve trampled with their youth. We’ll talk about the times they explored, the knees they scraped, the storms we watched and the times the chairs knocked the house.
Perhaps as they head here to visit from their travels they will say to their friends:
“I’m going home.”
And if I am very lucky they will add:
“It’s my favorite place in the world.”
Dianna Flett is a leader, entrepreneur and mother of four boys. Her goal in life is to not raise jerks and to always choose a path that will provide lessons to help her boys “grow away”. After a successful career as an Army Officer, Dianna, a decorated combat veteran, uses her military training time and again to find approaches and techniques to navigate parenting leadership challenges. She also drinks wine when needed. Dianna’s life has taken her from the battlefield, to the PTO, to the FBI and now to continued service as CEO and facilitator of a program she created called Girl Smarts. Always on the front lines, she hopes to share her thoughts in a way to provide vision and solace to other parents looking to survive on the parenting battlefield.