For years we’d been walking down this path together. It was a comfortable path. There were few rocks to stumble over and the flowers were bright and filled with interesting aromas.
One day something changed. I ran to my wife, filled with concern.
“Yes, dear?” was her calm reply.
“There’s something in our path! I almost stepped on it! What is it?”
I grabbed her hand and ran to where I saw the thing in our path. It lay there on the ground. When it looked at me, it began to cry.
“It’s a Baby, sweetheart. She’s ours.”
“Huh? Really? Does it walk with us on this path?”
“No, silly. She can’t walk yet. We have to help her with her needs. For now.”
My wife picked the Baby up and with a smile carefully handed it to me. It was still crying. And it had a smell. “What on earth is that?”
“She needs changing.”
“Honey, I just want to walk down the path. This is going to change everything.”
“Exactly. And that’s okay,” my wife told me.
My wife changed the diapers on this new creature I found on our path and we continued on our way. I didn’t know what to make of this little person. She cried. She was hungry. She needed changing. It was a disruption to the path.
Until it wasn’t.
“Yes, dear, what is it?”
“The Baby! She walks!”
“Well, that’s a good thing, right?”
“Yeah, and she smiles, and she laughs and she likes to play!” I told her, filled with wonder.
“She’s not a Baby, anymore, Doug.”
“What is she?”
“She’s a Little Girl.”
“What do I do with her?”
“That’s easy. Play with her. Teach her what you know.”
“I don’t know much, hon.”
“You know more than you think. She’s waiting for you.”
I walked over to the Little Girl and grabbed her little hand. She took me down the path a ways, where the flowers changed into something marvelous. There were butterflies, and candy hanging off the trees. There were princes and princesses. There were fairy tales to explore and games to play. The path before us was filled with Imagination. This path was her part of our path and it was where I learned that this Little Girl was going to teach me, not the other way around.
“There’s another one! Another Baby right down the path a bit!”
“I know, dear.”
“What do we do?”
“The same as before. We take care of it and carry it with us down the path.”
“What about the other one?”
“She’ll help. She’s got a new title. Big Sister.”
I walked over to the newest creature laying on the ground in our path. The Big Sister was standing over it, sizing it up. She bent down and poked this new Baby. It looked at her and laughed. Big Sister laughed back.
I bent down and picked this new Baby up and grabbed Big Sister’s hand. My wife grabbed her other and the four of us continued on.
“Big Sister is different! What is going on?”
“She’s a Teenager, sweetheart. It’s okay.”
“What does this mean? What do I do?”
“It means we have to be careful. She wants to travel down paths by herself. We have to keep an eye out.”
“You’ll know it when you see it.” my bride told me cryptically.
I walked over to the Teenager and grabbed her hand. She pulled her hand away but kept close by. I looked back and could see the path of Imagination behind us. I wanted to go back there. The Teenager came to a stop at an arc in the path. She stepped forward a couple steps.
“Is this it?” I asked my wife.
“It is. This path is called Boys.”
I didn’t like this path at all. It was filled with dark corners and thorns and thistles. I looked at the Teenager, “Why this path?”
“Because,” was her simple reply and she stepped into this path without hesitation.
I felt something suddenly in my hand. I looked down and saw I was holding an ax.
“What do you plan to do with that, honey?” my wife asked.
“Nothing. Unless I have to. And if I do, it’s all coming down.” I said grimly.
But, despite my instant dislike of that path, she managed to walk in and out of it without harm. For now. I knew however, that path would be one I would always keep an eye on.
“The Teenager! What is going on now?”
“She’s grown up. She’s an Adult now.”
“What does that mean? What do we do?”
“Honey, this is the hard part. Going forward, there’s not much more we can do.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
My wife grabbed my hand and walked me towards the new Adult who was staring down a path I couldn’t see. “Watch her,” my wife said.
The new Adult turned towards us, smiled, waved and then turned back to the direction she had been facing. She then took off walking down this new path.
“Wait!” I said and took off after her. I came to a stop as some sort of invisible wall appeared before me.
“Doug. This isn’t our path. It’s hers. We can’t go.”
“What do we do?”
“We watch. We pray. And we love her.”
“Is it enough?” I asked her.
“It’ll have to be, honey.”
As the new Adult faded into the distance, I looked down to the other person who had entered our life on this path. She had turned into a Teenager as well. I bent down and grabbed her hand. “Fine, but this one we can keep around for the rest of our path, right?”
That Teenager pulled her hand out of mine and like her Big Sister walked down the road away from me a bit. Not far, but enough to know that I wasn’t going to like what my wife said.
“No dear, she will have her own path to go down one day.”
I stood up and hugged my wife and we watched as the new Adult disappear from sight. I gave my wife a look, “What do we do when they’re both on their own path?”
“We continue down ours. Their paths will intertwine with ours again, I promise.”
“How is it that you know all this?”
“I’m a Mom. I’ve known this for a long time.”
“I’m not sure I can do this.” I said, trying to wipe away the tears in my eyes.
“That’s why YOU aren’t doing it. WE are.”
With that, the two of us, with the Teenager, continued on down the path.