Which way is forward?

My 5-year-old son laid back on his starry sheets and looked up at the plastic-starred ceiling, armed for bedtime with matching pj’s and a solid layer of picture books.

“Mom, how do you know which way is forward?” He threw his arms up and pointed around wildly. “This way could be forward, or this way, or this way. ALL THE WAYS can be forward.

What an excellent question, I say.

We both laid back and looked up at the pale stars, thinking. His thoughts were likely pretty literal. Mine weren’t. They were about upcoming changes as he, the youngest of my three kids, starts kindergarten, and how I need to make my own way forward.

My identity as a mom of babies and toddlers and preschoolers is gone – well, maybe not gone exactly, but archived. And I don’t know how this new chapter quite plays out yet.

“Well, I guess forward depends on where you’re going.” I say, partly to him, and partly to myself.

“Forward is not so much about where you ARE, but where you want to be.”

It was a comforting thought.

I realized, to move forward, I’d first need to give thought to where it is (and who it is) I want to be. Even if the shape is hazy and the edges aren’t defined.

If I get closer and the fog lifts and it’s not what I thought- well, I suppose I’ll recalibrate and move in one of the different directions my little boy pointed out around the stars. They are innumerable, after all.

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