roots and wings

It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky

I’ll have tears as you take off

But I’ll cheer as you fly

~ Mark Harris, Find your Wings


Last Wednesday night – the eve of Katie’s record-breaking four night stay at her Grammy’s house …


After talking about nothing else for the previous two days, Katie had begun to equivocate.

“Mama,” she said quietly, “I’m not so sure I want to go to Grammy and Grandpa DD’s this weekend. Maybe I could just, you know, see them another time.”

“Baby,” I said, “you’ve been so excited about this trip. And they have all kinds of exciting things planned – The Bronx Zoo! The Met!”

Her face was glum.

“I know, Mama. But I’m going to miss you,” she said. “A LOT. And Daddy and Brooke and Winston” She bit her lip. “It’s too long. I don’t think I can do it.”

I cupped her chin in my hand and chased her eyes. She looked at me reluctantly.

“Sweet pea,” I began, “do you remember what it says on the picture on your washroom wall?”

Her face brightened.

“Of course, Mama. I see it every day.”

“Well, then,” I asked. “What does it say?”

“It says, To you I wish to give two things – to give you roots, to give you wings.”

My girl’s half-packed overnight bag sat next to us on the floor, overflowing with evidence of  her ten year-old tweendom. Even the books she packed told the story. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Mysterious Benedict Society and Phineas and Ferb. So hungry for the world in some ways, yet hanging onto her little girlhood by her bubble gum pink fingernails.

I held my girl and rocked her gently. I slowed to a stop, then pulled her just far enough away to be able to see her beautiful eyes.

“You know you’ve got the roots, my love. You know that. Always. Now it’s time to test your wings.You’ve got this.”

We finished packing.


Today – Monday …

Luau is heading down to my mom’s to pick Katie up today. I can not wait to see her. To hold her. To squeeze her. To play with her hair. To rub her back. To hug her. I need her presence.

When I see her, I won’t tell her that I cried. I won’t tell her that it was all I could do not to get in the car and come get her when she asked if she could come home early. I won’t tell her that I lost it completely on Saturday night, aching for her, wondering if she knew just how much she was missed.

No, I won’t tell her.

Instead, I will tell her how proud I am of her.

And how beautiful her wings look.

I cannot wait to see her.


Ed note: I had a sense of deja vu as I wrote this post. Turned out there was good reason for that.

I guess it’s true – plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And dang, I am screwed when this kid goes off to college. 

10 thoughts on “roots and wings

  1. It has been an incredible weekend. Katie is starting to wake in her room and I’m starting to miss her as she gets ready to leave to go back home today. Beware! We all talked about the next visit coming soon because Central Park is so beautiful in the fall.

    Love you,

  2. That’s beautiful Jess! Glad to know I’m not the only Mom who has separation anxiety. You spoke and handled it with beauty. And you know the bonding time she had with you Mom and all the culture she was exposed to in NYC was well worth it, and SO important for her. I know you’ll be counting the hours and minutes til your girl comes home! xo

  3. Having just sent my oldest two off to college, I can tell you it doesn’t get easier, but who knew how big your heart could be when full of more pride than you though possible!!

  4. There will be a day when she comes across all you have ever written and upon reading will discover just how many times you have given her wings and how incredibly deep and strong her roots truly are. Enjoy your baby girl when she comes home, you did a magnificent job of letting her fly, once again.

  5. I loved that and it couldn’t have been more timely – I just dropped my 2 boys off at my in-laws for 3 days. The little one (6) has been saying for 2 days he didn’t want to go, he would miss me too much. I almost didn’t bring him, but do know he is having a great time now and I did the best thing by giving him his wings. Thanks for making me feel better on a tough day!

  6. i remembered that post from ’09 as i was relating this one! (Hope had an overnight with her nana last weekend.) from the book Olive Kitteridge: “you get used to things… without getting used to things.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s