Roots and wings… always a journey!
Emma and I sat in the doctor’s office explaining our dilemma. She was bound for Florida in four days but felt terrible and could hardly breathe. A virus with symptoms of walking pneumonia was the culprit. Should she go? Would those in charge care for her? Could she go late without losing her spot on the team? What options did we have? She planned for this experience with her cousin for nearly a year.
The following days were a blur. Emma lying in bed while I gathered her materials, packed her bags, labeled items, and tried to follow all the organization’s guidelines. Emotions ran high. Honestly, my stomach knots remembering those days. How could I send her when she was sick? One moment she seemed so mature and courageous. I was delighted she would have this opportunity. The next moment, so young. My mama bear mode was profound.
My heart wants roots
My mind wants wings
I cannot bear their bickerings.
(E. Y Harburg)
This quote hung on my bulletin board throughout college. For my first job, I had it framed and hung on the wall across from my desk. Handwritten on a small yellow piece of paper, the words also stayed in my wallet for years. That was my young adult experience of longing for connection, family, and foundation yet boldly dreaming and longing for new opportunities beyond the small world I knew. This tug-of-words resonated with me throughout the years.
It was one thing when I was the traveler and dreamer and one seizing opportunities. It took a whole new meaning when the roles reversed and my daughter had a plane ticket in hand.
It’s a juggle. This roots and wings thing. As parents, we spend so many early years providing roots and a solid foundation for our littles. We see glimpses of their wings and treasure independent steps. We know that the goal is wings. The ones that take off because a firm grounding exists. Then one day, the wings get bigger and the flight longer. Before you know it, you’re standing in the airport, anticipating the moment her name is called… to go.
I knew her aunt, uncle, and cousin would meet her at the airport in Florida. She and her cousin would enter this experience together. I knew the organization assured their care for her. I knew I would fly to Florida two weeks later to see Emma before the team flew to Zambia. I knew Emma sincerely wanted to do this and was committed to the experience. I knew this yet had equal excitement and concern. How could I let her go, especially when she was not feeling well?
Like the poem, Author Hodding Carter wrote, “A wise woman once said to me: ‘There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other wings.'”
And so it was, on a cloudy Friday morning, June 5, 2015, Emma boarded a plane. She had a courageous spirit, a remarkable faith, and sheer determination. Wholeheartedly, I embraced the moment. I had to trust the roots and delight with her as she spread her wings. As her plane disappeared in the clouds, my prayers and tears flowed freely. No need to hold them back. Our daughter grew up quickly. Loving her and letting her go halfway around the world was now part of our story.
Roots and wings… throughout our lives it happens in little – and sometimes big – ways. It’s a journey, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Do you experience the bickerings of heart and mind… roots and wings? What have those moments been like for you or people you love? I’d love to hear from you!
This is Part One of Three. Roots and Wings series will continue with The Juggle: Roots and Wings.