“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” ~Graham Greene
Hanging in the downstairs hallway of my home is a magnetic whiteboard covered with magnets collected during our travels and family adventures. Quotes are scattered throughout the mix. Every morning I pause and scan the trinkets. Each one is different. Each one connects a memory to a heartstring. Usually, my eyes find one upon which to focus. For just a few moments, I try to recapture the sights, the sounds, the smells of a day held in a small momento. For just a few moments each morning, I travel back in time. Daily, I am inspired by the varied collection to remember my blessings.
The most inspiring keepsake is slipped in a 4×6 magnetic photo sleeve. It contains a photo of my girls, 5 and 2 at the time and a slip of paper with the above quote. I recall when I first read those words, my first-born was not more than 2. I wrote them in a journal. That day, Greene’s words became my cautionary reminder that I may not, most likely will not, know behind which door lies their futures. I did not then and still do not interpret this to mean that I should overbook our schedules with dance classes, sports teams, or extracurricular academics that hold no appeal. The future may lie in a trip to a museum, a book, the playground, travel or perhaps the first taste of a new food. I believe my job, as their mother, is to expose them to the doors that may capture their interest, not direct them to those that meet my vision for their future.
Our every experience becomes woven into the fabric of our skin . Some experiences lead us to doors, some to dead-ends, all to becoming ourselves . Whether leading to the future, to frustration, or to a short-lived interest, all doors offer opportunities for personal growth. As a mom, my first instinct is to protect, to guide them away from the doors that may lead to disappointment. Nevertheless, I believe that, aside from guarding their physical and spiritual well-being, the doors my children explore are not mine to block, nor to close with my doubts or fears.
Watching my girls develop interests different from mine is not always easy. It takes me out of my comfort zone. I chafe against the perceived growing separation between us. I itch to stay purposeful in their lives. Truthfully, and embarrassingly, I fear feeling unneeded by them. However, their unique interests may one day open the door they walk through. Perhaps, the door has already presented itself, and its shadow can be found on a magnetic whiteboard. Perhaps, it has yet to be found. Regardless, a parent’s love, support and encouragement are critical to a child’s future, and I know that I cannot allow my fears or discomfort to hold back my girls from discovering their futures.
Someday soon, my children will be on their own, testing doors, and stepping through. If I’ve done my job right, they will have the wisdom to choose well and the courage to step through. In the meantime, I must remind myself to encourage them as they explore different paths, trusting in a divine plan that it is not mine to control.
Someday soon, I will become an empty nester. Until then, I relish the time I have left with children in the house and know that parenting and homeschooling are still my priorities. One morning, not long ago, as I was studying that 4×6 photo with Graham Greene’s caution, I realized that it is time for me to start exploring doors of my own again. By gradually redefining my sense of purpose, I can rejoice with them, not mourn, when they step through the door to separation. We raise them to fly on their own. We encourage them by taking flight ourselves.
Therefore, at the end of each day, we must ask ourselves, as women and mothers, “Have I closed a door, or did I encourage a future?”