In life, there are many points of separation or divergence. A moment in time where one can choose a particular path or aim for another altogether. Sometimes, a person doesn't actively choose, but just kind of drifts down a certain course. Or they are shoved from behind by the unexpected. There are moments we can look back and see how far we've come, look forward and see how much further we still have to go. We can see, perhaps, the choices we should have made and the decisions that have led us to our current standing in life. Many paths, many choices, many doors.
Our youngest daughter was an unexpected path of the best kind. People who know me know that I love children. I could gobble up babies by the dozens, if I were allowed. But it had been five years since our last baby, and all the previous kiddos were much closer in age. I should have suspected something was in the works, though, when our fourth child told me he'd been using his crystal from the Tooth Fairy to wish for a baby to come. When his wish came true, my secret desire did, too. Granted, we had to reconfigure our house and our plans for the future. Retirement for my husband is probably a couple years farther away, and we'll be the "old" parents by the time the final graduation rolls around. As for our home, our bedrooms were already filled: one doubled up; the others, not the safest for a little one. Lego pieces, art supplies, knick-knacks and personal items of older childhood .... The game room, with newly installed surround sound, became the baby's room. With the best lullaby system ever. And double glass French doors.
At first, I thought we were going to have to install blinds or curtains to block all the light that pours through the front of the room during the day. But then I realized how nice it was to be able to check on Miss O just by peeking through the window. No need to open a creaky door, no need to guess whether she was making noise in her sleep or was actually awake. But it got even better. The older kids watched her through the glass as well. They ran to greet her every morning, spied on her at nap times, came and got me if they thought I might not know she was ready to come out of her crib, left nose and finger prints all over the outside panes. Smudges depicting a story of waiting and anticipation for the moment of allowed entry.
Fifteen months have passed. Miss O is in her daddy-made toddler bed and can get in and out of it as she pleases. Still, the first thing we hear of her in the mornings is usually the pounding footsteps of an older sibling or two ... or four, racing to her door to see if they can go in yet. "Mama, Olivia's awake!" Sometimes, she's standing on the other side, face and hands smooshed against the glass, waiting for the first view of her most favorite people in the world. Nothing beats peek-a-boo through the glass. Except maybe walking down the hallway and seeing an eleven-year-old boy sitting in the rocking chair, reading a book to his one-year-old sister, an extra brother or two sitting on the little bed or resting against a toy, listening in. Or watching the oldest daughter pause in front of the closed doors on the way to her own room, and seeing the youngest daughter's face light up as she reaches out her arms.
One day, she will need her privacy. She might not appreciate all the faces staring in at her at any given moment. But, for now, those knee-high slobber prints are the most precious decorations ever. They mean a family bonded through an unexpected journey taken on an unplanned path. They mean giggles and belly laughs and little fists pounding for the freedom of escape. They mean siblings who don't mind an age gap of up to twelve years, children who love each other despite the changes a baby brings into the set dynamics of everyday life. Though they may at times stand separated by a choice or action, their paths all lead to a particular glass door. A door that doesn't even have to be opened for them to see the joy that stands behind it. Waiting just for them. May they always be so lucky to have such a door.