If you’ve ever hiked in a rocky place, where recognizable trail comes and goes, you may have come across a cairn or two. These are stacks of rocks that previous hikers have put in place to mark the trail for those who follow. It's very reassuring to be hiking along, not quite sure if you're going the best way to reach the summit, and to look ahead and see a cairn. You pick up your steps knowing you're heading in the right direction. It's also helpful to see a cairn when you've started to drift a bit too far south or west and to align yourself with what previous hikers saw as the best route to reach your shared destination.
Sometimes I (Jessica) feel like a wandering hiker as a parent. It's hard to know if the information I'm working off of or what feels instinctive to me is what will actually get our family where I want us to be down the road. I picture the contributors to this project--those who have already prepared and inspired their kids to reach the destinations described here--standing up on the summit of our shared journey called parenting. The trail they picked got them to the top, they've done it, and I'm hopeful that I can find trail markers left for me as I do one of the most important things I'll ever do in my life--parent.