Porch Swing Stories: Practical Parenting

Today I am so pleased to bring you the next installment of Porch Swing Stories from the lovely, talented, and amazing blogger Katie from Practical Parenting. Not only is she a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert, but she’s a great blogger and friend as well. 

Home.

I want to stay here forever.  I want to live in my own room forever and never leave you and Daddy.”

We make eye contact in the rearview mirror as the car slows to a stop.

“You will always have your room here sweetheart, this will always be your home.”

She purses her lips and narrows her eyes just a bit, as if to make a point.

“No, Mommy.  Always.  I want to stay here forever and always.”

Tears well up in her eyes as she finally gives in to her emotions.  I pull her out of her seat and hold her close, rocking her back and forth.

I know the feeling, sweet girl.  I know just how you feel.

“Then forever and always it is.  You can stay here forever and always.”

She sighs deeply, letting out that moment of stress before panic creeps in again.

“But you left your mommy and daddy.  You didn’t stay.  WHY didn’t you stay?”

Truth be told, it’s a question I still can’t answer.  I meant to go back.  I always intended to go back.  At times, I yearn to go back.  Back to where it all began.  Back to the safety and simplicity of life in a smaller place.  Away from Los Angeles, away from the allure of Hollywood, away from girls growing up too fast.  Back to a place where kids are just kids and family is always around.

We make our way into the house and head up to the rocking chairs on the balcony.  This is where we go to relax.  This is where we go to talk.  This is where we go to just be.

“I didn’t stay because I had things to learn and people to help.  I went to Boston, Philadelphia, and finally Los Angeles.  I went where my life took me.”

“But don’t you miss your house, Mommy?”

More than you know, sweet girl, more than you will ever know.

“I do miss it sometimes.  I miss Mimi.  I miss sitting on the balcony and watching the waves while the sun slowly sets.  I miss hot summer nights and sitting by the fire on chilly winter days.  But this house?  This is OUR home.  This is our family.  This is where we are making memories and learning and growing together.  This is where you and baby brother will always call home.”

She smiles, satisfied at last, as she watches a black and yellow butterfly dance around us.

I watch her mind wander as I try to fight back the emotions.

For years, it felt like pretend.  We lived in apartments, traveled a lot, and never really put down roots.  I can always go home, I told myself whenever the distance got the best of me.  I can always go home.

Then we were engaged, married, fighting our way through infertility, and finally, yes finally, bringing home a baby.  And then another.  And suddenly, real life took over.  This became home.

She stops watching the butterfly and looks at me with excitement in her eyes.

“I know!  If Daddy got a different job, we could live THERE!”

Sometimes I could swear that her optimism alone could end a war.

“But this is your home sweet girl.  This is your home.”

She rocks back and forth, taking it in.

“I don’t want to leave my room.  I don’t like it when things change.”

We link hands and breathe in the salty air coming in from the ocean.

“Things won’t change, sweet girl.  This is home.  And we will always take our trips back there in the summer.  We will always have our visits.”

“But it’s so short when we go.  Right when I get used to it, we always leave.”

She’s right.  It’s never ever enough.  8 days, 10 days, 12 days…it’s just never enough.

She crawls onto my lap and waits.

“When you guys are just a little bit bigger, we will go for longer.  A month, maybe.  Maybe even two months.  Someday, we will stay longer.”

She plays with my necklace while she considers this.

“You know, Mommy…it’s ok if we have two homes.  Because two is more than one.”

And in that instant, through the wisdom of a child, I finally feel some relief.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  It doesn’t have to be this or that.  Someday we can find a way to make Connecticut our home too.  Someday I can show them what it means to grow up around family and in a smaller town.  Someday we can run barefoot through sand and stay out until the whistle blows, calling us home for dinner.  Someday we can have it all.

Because two is definitely more than one.

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Isn’t she amazing? Be sure to check out her blog, Practical Parenting and find Katie on Twitter to @practicalparenting.

Interested in sharing a Porch Swing Story? Email me at ashley {at} myfrontporchswing {dot} com.

Porch Swing Stories: Things I Can’t Say

This week’s guest to Porch Swing Stories is no surprise. One of my greatest friends and best things to come from blogging is my other half and business partner, Shell from Things I Can’t Say. Read on to gain a glimpse into the sharing she does so well on her blog- sharing the details of her life, her kids, and in this case, her love. 

In March, Hubs and I will celebrate our nine year wedding anniversary. Nine years.

Of course we started our marriage thinking that we would last forever. What young newlywed couple doesn’t?

But, as time passed, we had our moments when we both thought we’d never make it.

We have, though. And I don’t have any doubts that we’ll be together forever.

And so I can picture myself sitting on my own front porch swing some day, with a teenage granddaughter who asks me “Grammy, how do you know if you are in love? What does it feel like?”

I’ll smile, reach way back in my memory, and remember what it was like to fall in love, into a love that lasted: how I was so sure that this was the man that I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.

When he and I were dating, it was like we were dancing.

It was fun and made me a little dizzy.

After a while, I realized we were dancing towards the edge of a cliff.

Once there, I could jump.

And truly be in love.

With no turning back.

Or, I could stay where it was safe and fun, just keep dancing without going anywhere.

But, I realized that I wanted to take this leap with this man.

And once I did, there really was no going back.

We were in love, we’d made the decision to leap together, and we couldn’t turn back.

Sometimes it felt like we were flying, sometimes like we were floating.

Other times it felt like we were speeding towards something dangerous and painful and scary.

But, always, always: we were together.

We couldn’t change our minds and say that we didn’t want to make the leap because we already had.

It was a decision we couldn’t change, couldn’t go back on.

And as time passed, we had more of the floating, flying moments and less of the scared-we’re-about-to-crash moments.

And we were always together.

That is what it’s like to be in love forever.