I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost. You’re probably familiar with it too…
The Road Not Taken
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I marked the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the last two lines in the third stanza. Until recently, I thought I would always eventually find myself on the first road…the place I thought my life would look like. After some pretty significant differences at the outset of my parenting career, I figured I was just on a detour and I’d eventually rejoin the masses on the main road. But I forgot about way leading on to way….I didn’t anticipate the ways that I would change and the people I would meet on my road and how that would influence future decisions, especially those having to do with this beautiful little girl in our house. So I’m learning to accustom myself to surprises, to keep listening to my instincts and to appreciate the joy and excitement on this road. I think I’m improving my adaptability but my stress resilience and courage could still use some work. A lot of times it’s scary and intimidating to do things I’ve never seen done before. I have no context for what “that life” should look like so I create it the best I can with the tools and knowledge I have, trying imbue it with as much confidence as I can muster and striving mightily to incorporate the all the goodness I was given growing up. This effort, in turn, reinforces my ability to trust myself so at the next crossroads I assess the situation and make the choice that seems right for us.
Does everyone feel a bit lonely on their road sometimes? This one can be a lonely place because I think maybe my life is a hard one to understand if you haven’t lived it or listened well and it’s hard not to be understood. And yet, there are parts of this road that have been so intensely personal and beautiful that I usually don’t just volunteer my story, I wait for people earn the right to hear it. I wait until I know it can be appreciated because I treasure all of it. It is my story, after all.
So last night as I brushed a kiss across the cheek of my long-awaited, naturally-birthed, ivf, co-sleeping, nursing Montessori pre-schooler, I felt nervous, brave and very, very, grateful for the beauty she’s shown me along the way.