In full swing after 30 years.

About 30 years ago, we got a porch swing.  A few years earlier, we had purchased our first house, a modest old Dutch Colonial with lots of charm hidden behind its 1960’s updates.  It had a large front porch – deep enough to gather with friends or spend time in solitude, contemplating life.

The swing didn’t cost us a dime – a good thing in those early days of parenthood and home-ownership.  We got the swing with coupons.  My in-laws ran a corner grocery store, and the manufacturers’ coupons they collected from customers could be redeemed for merchandise.  Like S&H green stamps for small businesses.  I had helped to organize the coupons so I got to pick my prize.

Back then, I had this Good Housekeeping vision of a home with hard wood floors, tastefully sponge-painted walls, and neatly folded bathroom towels.  Ahh.  The serenity that such a house would bring.  A porch swing would be the perfect finishing touch.

The swing arrived in a box, assembly required.  But we were painting the outside of the house, and I was working full time and going to school at night, so it stayed in the box.  Over the next 20 years, we tore apart the house and raised two boys, both of which wore me down.  We rebuilt the house, room by room, but the swing never got assembled.

When we moved to our current old house 10 years ago, the box ended up in my brother-in-law’s garage loft, in “temporary storage.”  Then the tiling and patching and painting started up again and the porch swing stayed put, suspended in time.

This past summer, at a book club meeting on the host’s big front porch, I grabbed the coveted spot on her porch swing. I could have spent the night there.  Something about that back-and-forth swaying suits me.  Being an introvert, I spend a lot of time “in my head” as the expression goes, meaning that I think a lot- about who I am, my life, and the world.  I’m always trying to figure it all out.

I came home that night and said to Michael, “We’ve gotta get that swing from your brother’s garage and put it up.”  With just the two of us now in the house, and fewer house projects left, there was no excuse.  So we got down the box and opened it.  I wondered if it would be missing any parts.  What if it was infested with bugs?  But all the pieces were there and the wood was pristine.

So after 30 years, our porch swing finally has a home.  When I sway on it and contemplate my life and the world, not all the pieces fall into place, and the picture is far from pristine.  Nothing like the glossies in a Good Housekeeping magazine.  But that’s not the point.  For me, the more moments and spaces I create to nurture myself – what I call being WellNested –  the better I can figure out how to make the world a better place.  I don’t have that answer yet, but I’ll keep swinging on it.


  • Karen DeBonis

    Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, people-pleasing, and personal growth, the entangled mix told in her memoir "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" forthcoming in spring 2023. Subscribe today to receive Chapter 1: A Reckoning.

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  1. Laura Naistadt Massa on November 18, 2016 at 1:21 PM

    Karen, this is beautiful and resonates deeply with me. It takes work to make time for peace. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. on November 18, 2016 at 3:16 PM

    Thanks Laura, and that’s a wonderful statement: It takes work to make time for peace. Very profound, especially lately!

  3. on November 18, 2016 at 4:39 PM

    When I was newly married, we bought an old house (built in 1935). It came with a red swing on the front porch. I can relate to the patching, painting, tiling (never again) and the raising of two boys (which wore me out too). The porch swing became a place to take a break and enjoy the fresh outside air. Guests always liked the swing (I have so many pictures of friends and relatives sitting on that porch swing). One day the swing broke while my mom was sitting on it with my baby son. Luckily, no one was hurt. My mom’s tailbone was sore for a few days. I fixed the swing with extra-strong bolts that could hold up a tank. Now the swing is gone; the house underwent a major renovation by a new owner. My marriage ended and my boys grew up, but I have fond memories of that red porch swing! Thanks Karen, for your wonderful blog!
    Janet Dwyer

  4. on November 18, 2016 at 4:52 PM

    Thanks for your comment Janet! It’s funny – I was sitting on the swing yesterday and there was a bit more creaking than usual, and I kept looking up at the ceiling and wondering how hurt I would be if it fell. I guess if your Mom survived, I could, too. (I’m probably the age now that your Mom was at the time.) So sorry the swing and your marriage ended, but I’m glad you have the memories. :)

  5. on November 19, 2016 at 4:11 PM

    I am so glad that you finally got your swing out of the box. It is now fulfilling it’s destiny, by soothing and calming those who sit upon it.I am also glad that I have lived long enough to see your true self emerge with such wisdom and grace from the box in which it has been hidden for many years. From your grateful mother.

  6. on November 19, 2016 at 4:13 PM

    Aww, shucks. Thanks, Mom.
    From your grateful daughter. XXOO

  7. on November 19, 2016 at 4:16 PM

    From Karen: A couple of people mentioned that they could not post a comment here. (Including my Mom – so I posted her comment below.) I’ll see if I can figure out what’s going on. In the meantime, a FB follower said this:

    "it made me smile – the blog – the swing wasnt ready for you till now."

    I think she’s so right!!

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