By Diane Forman
PROMPT—I am grateful for ...
The first house we bought as a young married couple had a tiny side porch, just large enough for two wooden chairs squeezed tight to one side, where we sat, knee to knee at night, drinking coffee and looking out on the neighborhood. In a previous iteration, it was probably more of a vestibule, a side walk-through to the living room. A former owner had removed the siding and opened it up, so we had a small but appreciated view of the world. When we first moved into this house I was newly pregnant, and I liked watching the young mothers pushing their toddlers in plastic Cozy Coupes, or ride-on cars, trikes or strollers. The street was full of bikes and basketball hoops and even a neighborhood sandbox, sand spilling from the edges, pails and shovels and sand molds in every possible color crowding the space. While the women nodded and spoke to me politely, I was not yet a member of this club I was eager to join. I marveled at the ease with which those experienced mothers wrangled their brood, sometimes three or four children of various ages, from playtime to meals or baths or bedtimes. They were masterful and I wondered if you could learn these things from a book. I had practically memorized “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” From the porch, I watched the nighttime goings-on too. Our houses were in such close proximity that I could hear dinners being made, discussions about homework or bedtimes. Children cried or had tantrums. We could hear music and occasional marital squabbles. The world was a microcosm from the porch. Once I had my babies, I moved from the porch to the street, now a full-fledged mother who pushed a stroller, and then coaxed a Cozy Coupe or tricycle. Soon I was talking about homework and play-dates too, that other people on other porches could hear.
Diane Forman is a writer and educator who has published or has pieces upcoming in Intima, a Journal of Narrative Medicine, WBUR Cognoscenti, Herstry, The Write Launch, Whale Road Review, FOLIO, and others. A graduate of Northwestern University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Diane lives on the north shore of Boston, where she leads AWA (Amherst Writer and Artist) writing groups.