A self-proclaimed dispenser of wisdom, I recently shared a parenting thought with Louise over at I Choose Happy Now. She wrote a post about sending her first-born off to Pre-K, and the tug on her heart as he reached this milestone.
I shared with her one of my favorite little pearls of parenting wisdom: Roots and Wings.
The full quote, from Southern journalist and author Hodding Carter states “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.”
The roots part is what we usually think of as parenting. Teaching them right from wrong, good manners, faith. Giving them roots brings us closer to our kids, because it’s a time when we’re instilling in them values we want them to have, molding them into the people we want them to become.
The wings part is much harder.
There are the small steps. Sending him off to Pre-K, wondering if he’ll be able to open his Ziploc bag at snack time. The first day of second grade, wondering who she’ll eat lunch with. Or the rite of independence The Caboose experienced last night: wandering the stadium with his friends at a football game while we sat vigil over the popcorn.
Then there are the big leaps. Going on her first date. Getting his driver’s license. Going away to college.
My friend Stacy was the first to chant the “Roots and Wings” mantra to me back when The Trailblazer was in high school. With her first-born a year older than mine, she shared with me her anxiety as her daughter left for college. Assuring her that her baby girl was ready for the real world made me realize that I had to accept the same. (I mean, if you can’t take your own advice, you’ve got no business dispensing it, right?)
One of the hardest lessons of parenting is realizing that our REAL job is to prepare them for their time without us. Whether that time is 9 to 2 at preschool, four years at college, or the independent adult life they will someday live without us. We’ve got to teach them well, and then let them go.
It’s all about Roots and Wings.