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Published April 27 2010

Parenting Perspectives: Life’s path is a choice

This fall will be a significant one for our family as our baby enters kindergarten and our oldest begins high school.

Though we’re not there just yet, the momentum toward change has begun. In anticipation, I’ve found myself startled by occasional episodes of dream-like ruminations.

I am walking hand in hand with our youngest, approaching a long hall. Light emanates from sporadic spots up ahead. Doorways, I realize.

We move forward, and though we don’t linger, we slow at each of the openings long enough to peek inside, where I glimpse moving pictures of what might have been.

In one room, I am dressed in a business suit giving a presentation to clients who sit in rapt attention. Later, I drive away in a shiny car with a sun roof, heading for my red-brick mansion on a hill. Two children, a dog and a nanny greet me at the door.

Another room has me on a plane, living the life of a travel writer. I’m off to Egypt to see the pyramids. Next week, it will be Greece, where I’ll eat my fill of souvlaki and baklava and write my next novel.

I walk farther and find myself in the English department of a university, where I am filling my students’ minds with classic texts and poems. One of them will go on to win the Pulitzer.

There are more doors filled with similar visions, all of which surprise me, not because they couldn’t have happened but because they could have. I sense I should be looking into the rooms with longing, but I’m distracted by a draft that has me searching for something warm to wrap myself in.

For one brief moment, a voice taunts: “See what you could have been, what you might have done?”

Suddenly I am aware my son has let go of my hand. I shirk the voice as I look around, panicked.

Oh, there he is! He is rushing toward me with a daffodil in his hands, its petals still folded. “Here, Mommy,” he says, reaching upward. I am thrilled to accept his spring gift.

He dashes off again, returning a few moments later, this time walking slowly as he precariously balances a glass of sloshing water. As I place the flower inside it, a look of contentment spreads across his face.

I glance behind me; the doors have vanished. Ahead, a heart-shaped door beckons us back to where we began. Its frames have been decorated haphazardly with the artwork of five children. A welcome mat below shows wear and a few stains. Loud noises come from inside – and warmth.

I’ve arrived at the place of my dreams, exactly where I was meant to be.

Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, are the parents of five children. She also has a blog at www.areavoices.com.