For literally MY ENTIRE LIFE, my mom has wanted a white-post front porch.
Why? I don’t know. Probably for any number of the very common reasons that tons of people like them. But either way: she’s always been enamored.
She points out houses that have them. She spots them in casual drive-bys. She mentions it explicitly when talking about retirement plans. She sometimes talks about them in conversation lulls (I’m joking on this last part… but just barely.)
For years, she mentioned this “white-post front porch” thing to me, making it perfectly clearly that it is more or less the biggest thing she wants in a home.
If you think I roll my eyes at this, quite the contrary. I adore my mother, and if we’re ever in the car in a new place and drive by a house with a really glorious front porch and she doesn’t say something, I will — just so she can gasp a little, bask, and then remind me, “ohh, I want one of those someday.”
Anyway, my siblings and I pretty much all knew she’d someday get one. The only one least sure of this was her… well, only second to my dad.
Because turns out: my dad didn’t know.
The thing is, she apparently only ever mentioned this to us kids (or, maybe she only ever mentioned it to me, her oldest daughter. Maybe there’s some mom:oldest-daughter bond that I wasn’t aware of; some sacred pact I was meant to handle gently and watch over. Which: in my defense, I still am.)
But the point is that: in all these decades of saying this, she apparently never mentioned the whole “porch” thing, explicitly, to my dad.
How do I know this? Here’s how…
I went home for the first time in about a year, and as I rounded the corner of my parents’ (and my childhood) street, it jumped out at my face like a spark: just a few houses up, right where it’s always been, but on the face of it: a friggin white-post front porch.
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed, “you have a porch!!”
And don’t get me wrong — my parents always had a porch… i.e., a cement-slab extension of the foundation, or whatever, from the front of the house to where the roof-line meets the lawn. You know, the bare minimym.
But they never had the posts; the railing. You know — the thing — and now… they did.
When I repeated this “holy shit” reaction for my mother, she beamed and then said, so gently and wholesomely I could’ve died: “I know! I love it! I just love it…”
Clearly I had to hear the story of why, after decades of living in this home, my mother has suddenly procured the porch.
So the next day, while hanging out in the kitchen with my mom — her cooking dinner while I “helped” (read: sat perched on the counter picking at the vegetables as she chopped them and bits of cheese while sipping white wine I’d only poured for myself, out of an orange juice glass, because she doesn’t drink) — I asked, “so, how did the porch happen?”
And she was more than happy to share.
The story is:
She and my dad were taking a walk around the neighborhood one day recently, and passed by a house with white-post front porch.
“Oh,” she sighed, “I just love that.”
But then, for perhaps the first time ever, for whatever reason, she then asked,
“Do you think you could build something like that?”
My dad glanced over and, with barely a beat, said “yeah! I could build that.”
My mom nodded a little, thinking he meant hypothetically or “8 years from now.” They kept walking and she more or less forgot about it.
But a few days later, Dad called up one of his friends, had some “Dad Chit-Chat,” and then brought up the topic of porches and my mom’s question, and the friend, being handy as well (my dad being handy himself), offered to help. He came over a few days later, they made a trip to the hardware store, and then got to work.
They had the entire thing built in one day.
My mom came home from work and… while I don’t think she cried, she might as well have.
When she retold the story, I think — hands down — it was the most complimentary and kind and enamored I’ve ever heard her talk about my dad. She was so grateful for what he’d done — and for how fast he’d done it.
“And now,” she said, taking a pause from stirring the tomato sauce to look over at me, “I have my porch…!”
I think she could’ve died right then a very happy woman.
And guys? He even added two white rocking chairs.
This story is not about gender, so don’t come at me with that shit
This story is about showing the fuck up in our own lives.
It’s about identifying what we want — and it’s about stating our needs clearly.
It’s about how so much of the universe — and especially the people who love us in it — are so eager to help with these things, if we only state them clearly. If we only ask, even once. (Or even more than once.)
It’s about being honest, and unapologetic, and above all it’s about being fucking clear in what it is that would make us happy.
Don’t play games when it comes to what you want most. Don’t dick around. Know what you want, but then say what you want. And odds are good the world — and your people — may well go well above and beyond to deliver.