A nurse takes your child’s footprint minutes after birth. It is the first mark they leave in the world. They have arrived and their life’s journey begins.
When they learn to walk, we hold their hands and guide them. We are their parents. Our legs are steady and strong. We know the safe route for them to navigate and take their steps.
As their steps become stronger, we take them to the beach and have them tackle new terrain. It is different from the familiar ground but we encourage them to follow us.
Their little foot fits inside our large footprint. It becomes a game. Our children take our lead and the route we choose for them to follow. They may have to leap from one step to the next to keep up with our stride, but usually land safely in our tracks. We curate our life’s experiences and love for our children into our footprints and encourage them to follow our path.
We have paved a road for them, but in time something changes on the journey. The ground shifts and it is their footprints that lead their parents down a new road.
My daughter is studying abroad in Brussels and I have just returned from a visit. She walked the streets and discovered the city before my feet touched this foreign soil.
I linked arms with her and passed the torch. I followed her footprints as I strolled the streets of Europe for a week. She was now the leader and I had to keep up with her stride to discover the historical sites along the way. She knew the best route, had the better map and encouraged us to discover this new terrain.
She offered us her directions and suggestions and then embarked on to a new city. She would walk along a new path and discover a new place without me. She will leave her footprint there while I added mine to places she had already walked.
The past, present and future were found walking the Rues and Straats of my trip. For centuries, people have left their footprint on this place and now I could humbly add my own. What have I discovered and what have I learned on this journey? Could this experience change me?
We said our goodbyes on a 15th century cobblestone street. We arrived there together following each other’s steps but would depart taking different paths.
My daughter left my embrace and turned right towards the route that would take her to her temporary home. The route that helped her become someone new. She has learned a lot, experienced so much and is ready to have her footprints leave a mark on the world.
My husband and I turned left to prepare for our return home. I am glad I had the chance to walk in my child’s footsteps. She no longer needs me to pave her path as she travels the world, but I will always be ready to offer her a steady arm to lean on if she needs one.