The here, the now and the individual have always been the special concern of the saint, the artist, the poet and — from time immemorial — the woman. In the small circle of the home she has never quite forgotten the particular uniqueness of each member of the family; the spontaneity of now; the vividness of here. This is the basic substance of life. These are the individual elements that form the bigger entities like mass, future, world. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea.
Tuesday morning’s op-ed piece by Michael Gerson was a fitting start to my day. Like him, we are sending off our younger daughter to college this week. As in, this morning.
She is now moved into her dorm room, getting to know her roomie, and starting to self-navigate all that college will bring her in the way of fun and challenges. The time has flown too fast, and yet has also taken forever. (And that perspective mutates according to which one of us is ready for more/less freedom. I do remember. I was a young adult… once… a long time ago!)
However, I’m not in suffering mode. We are celebrating Reedy Girl’s hard work and her readiness for what’s ahead. She’s more than ready to go; (she was packed by Monday afternoon!) So today is a milestone, a day to remember.
Many years ago, when her older sister was starting kindergarten, there was a short meeting for parents (mostly moms) with the elementary school principal, the amazing Mrs. Shirley. She told us that though we didn’t believe it, the years would fly by. Our days of helping with projects for school, of buying hiliters, paper, pencils and markers would end. There would be no “homework folder” to check, no concert to attend, no forms to fill out. It didn’t seem possible, and if we understood what she was saying, it was only intellectually. Then she quoted Hodding Carter’s wisdom:
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.” ― W. Hodding Carter
When she shared this advice with us, Mrs. Shirley’s children were in college. She knew what was coming. And that we might not be ready, when the time came for the “wings” stage.
We would stop planning carpools, playdates and soccer mom duties, and step back as our middle schoolers and high schoolers made their own plans. The time would come to watch them fly. When she talked about roots and wings, we all nodded, sagely, maturely, knowingly.
In the fast lane glance in the rearview mirror, I can see all that our daughters have learned, experienced and achieved. I can see where I would wish to have done a better job as a parent. But we all muddled through, and we still love each other! It is remarkable, really. And over in a flash. I think the roots we have offered them are strong and stable (eh – there’s knots and twists to be sure.) It’s time to see them fly!
So today I celebrate Reedy Girl’s journey and all of the wonderful experiences she will have ahead. I’m smiling at the new ventures her sister is on as she enters the workforce. I’m putting down a marker of sorts, thanking God for this lifetime job of parenting.
The journey changes. The challenges come and go. But roots and wings… there it is. And the screen isn’t blurry at all as I type this. Nope. Not at all. (Where’s my tissues?)