As I was giving the front porch its annual end-of-summer cleaning this morning I couldn't help reflecting on the changes in that spot during the past 44 years. The only thing we had on the porch when we built this house was two cheap lawn chairs. Then tricycles began to appear and were soon followed by bikes. With six children in the house, the porch was so full of bikes you could hardly see the porch much less walk across it without banging into something.
Time passed and the bikes on the porch began to thin out, replaced by cars and pickups that lined the driveway. If everyone was at home the driveway was so full it looked like we had company. It seemed there was always at least one dead vehicle parked in front of the garage and numerous others in various stages of disrepair or use.
The lawn chairs that had been in the corner of the porch for years were moved to the back of the house to reside on the patio we had always dreamed of and finally got around to building. With no lawn chairs or bikes on the porch, it was so bare I added some things purely for decoration to make it look like someone is at home. Before that, the children were the only decoration we needed (or was safe) on a porch.
More time passed and the cars in the driveway began to leave as the children married. After the last one married last summer the driveway was empty for the first time in years. As empty as the upstairs which was once crammed with five boys and their stuff.
I know old people always say how short forty years is and I'm showing my age when I repeat it. But it's true. I remember telling a young mother about fifteen years ago how fast the years fly and her children will be grown and gone before she knows what happened. I could tell she did not want to hear that line and it was no comfort to her when she was in the thick of raising a family. The years seemed to stretch endlessly ahead. She has moved to another state and I don't see her anymore but I heard her oldest child got married this summer. If I could ask her now, I believe she would probably agree that twenty years is not as long as she thought it seemed when her children were small.
It really does not seem long ago that my porch was full of tricycles and bikes. Am I wishing for those days to return? Not at all! I didn't mind it when I was in it but I sure don't want to go back to those days of so much noise and dirt, mounds of laundry, and cooking huge amounts of food. I'm satisfied to have a couple old jugs, a few plants, and other things on my porch to give it a lived-in look. I like having grandchildren come and wish they would come more often. But keeping house for two is enough for an old lady. There is a time for everything---a time to have a porch full of bikes and a time to sit on the porch and watch the world go by.