Roots and Wings

Roots and Wings

I have a teen daughter. She’s moving toward independence—sometimes in leaps and bounds, other times in baby steps. This mother’s heart is torn up on those occasions when I have to give her wings and let her fly or fall.

It may sound cliché from overuse, but I counter that the quotation by Hodding Carter gets so much use because it is so true:

“Two great things you can give your children: one is roots, the other is wings.”

I’ve always said that I’m not a mother who runs around my child with a pillow in case she falls. And I stand by that statement. What’s difficult for me is figuring out when to let my daughter fly and when to push her out of the nest because she needs to try to fly on her own. There are also times when she needs to be better “grounded” in the roots of our values or held back from taking on more than she can handle (even when she thinks she’s ready). I even think there are times when she might benefit from a good fall. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong. And sometimes right or wrong depends on which one of us you ask! 

While I struggle through this exhilarating and scary time of my daughter’s teen years, I turn to God, the ultimate parent, for guidance, encouragement and strength. There’s a great comparison of God to a mother bird in the Bible:
“As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young; as it spreads its wings, takes them up, and bears them aloft on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him” (Deuteronomy 32:11-12a).
I take great comfort in knowing that, when I take wing, I’m never alone. I know that God is with me. This can help me cope as a parent, too. My girl is never alone. When she flies, she flies with God—accompanied by my prayers for her. If she falls, as we all inevitably do at times, at least I can be there to help her pick up the pieces of her broken dreams or bruised pride or broken heart. Please, God, be with her! And help me to let go so she can find her wings—and soar!
 
 
 

About the Author

Joan McKamey has served in many capacities in her 15 years with Franciscan Media. She is currently the managing editor of Catholic Update, a monthly publication for adult faith formation of individuals and small groups. She also draws on her years as a parish catechetical leader in her columns for the monthly e-newsletter Faith Formation Update. She is married and is raising a teenage daughter.