I make my way down the stairs, and I smile. In fact, each time I head up or down the stairs I smile. Out of the corner of my eye I can see my daughter’s bedroom door, and it’s closed.
It was closed a lot during her last year of high school, at least when she was here. She was always behind the door, working on something – her schoolwork, her college applications, her art, her Facebook or Snapchat or Tumblr.
I don’t know if the closed door made me smile then. I don’t remember. I know that it makes me smile now, because it means she’s here. When she’s away at college, we leave the door open. I like to say “hi” to her as I pass her room on the way to my office, even though she’s not really there. So a closed door now signifies that our family of four is a family of four again. I mean, we’re always a family of four, but we haven’t been a family of four on an active daily basis since she went back to school in January. Now my son can sing the German alphabet song over and over again to annoy her, and the two of them can bicker (albeit kiddingly) at the dinner table. She’s here.
She’s only here for a few days, but she’s here and it’s a cause to smile. And while she’s here she’s often out and about, seeing the friends she can, so the closed door means she’s not only in Pennsylvania, but she’s in our house, which is doubly nice.
It’s nice to know that she’s awake somewhere in the house, most likely looking at something electronic, as I climb into bed at night. It’s nice to know that she’s sleeping in her room when I wake in the morning. And that she’s still sleeping in her room when I get back from the gym. It’s nice to know that, at least for a few days, I’ll hear her voice in the background as she talks with my husband or plays with her brother. It’s even nice to see her stare at her phone and seemingly ignore me for a few minutes. Because it means that she’s here to visit.
I wouldn’t want her here all the time. I mean I would, if it wasn’t her freshman year in college. I want her to be living and loving her freshman year in college. I think nothing is more sweet to a parent’s heart than to know that your kid is happy with where they are and what they’re doing. And she is, which is such a gift.
But it’s also a gift to have her here with us, if only for a few days. So many times, I think, we take what we have for granted. We live with the people we love most in the world, and don’t necessarily remember each day how much we love them. But when one of them leaves, even for a little while (or for what feels like a very long ten weeks), you begin to remember how dear they all are to you. How special family time is when it’s the whole family. How lucky you are that these amazing people are in your life.
So, today the closed door is making me smile. It’s reminding me to appreciate what’s right in front of me, and all that I have. I might smile even more when she opens the door and comes out, but even the sight of the closed door and the thought of her behind it is a gift.
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