Roots and Wings

Roots and Wings
Alana, me and Luke

They say if you raise your children right, you set their roots so they can later grow wings…or something to that effect. I’m thinking upon my son’s one year departure to Australia, that the wings may have grown too large, uplifting those roots. I guess that’s the idea though and no one is to blame a young man for wanting to travel and work abroad. It’s the experience of a life-time that rarely repeats.

As we age, the opportunities to use our wings lessen while we help others grow their roots. We get ‘tied’ or ‘rooted’ down.

I’m waxing philosophical here. It’s hard to let go but it’s something I’m learning to do. It’s hard to watch him leave but I know it’s his path.

Spreading his wings is something he has to do. Keeping him rooted is something I have to do. Motherhood. It’s a contradiction. What are ya going to do? They have no idea the depth of love we mothers have for them. If they knew, it would scare them.

Roots and wings—find a balance. Watch them fly and fall sometimes. In truth, my son finds his wings with Red Bull on some days. Still, I know that I’ve taught him all I could in the wee hours (or is it the wee years?). Some say the first five years make the man (or woman). It’s time to let go and trust in the Universe that he will find what he needs at the right time and always make a decision that is best for him.

I already know he will make decisions that help others too. His empathy is high and I pray no one takes advantage of that.

As a mother, you try to prepare them for the world but there’s nothing to prepare you for when they fly. The empty nest is a tough thing. Knowing they’ll be back helps immensely. Also, knowing they are gaining valuable life experience helps us accept their absence.

I’ve dropped him off at the airport this afternoon. Saying goodbye wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Since we already navigate a long distance relationship, saying good bye is part of our life together. Absence is a reality we deal with. I watched his lanky 6′ 1″ frame walk away and turn back for one last glance.  I blew him a kiss (our tradition). But I couldn’t wrap my head around a one year absence. One. Whole. Year. I secretly hope he will return sooner but I don’t tell him that. I want to remain positive. No guilt tripping.

So, now I’m home and my apartment feels too empty and quiet. I tried putting on music but the songs make me melancholy. Just as I told him it would, his departure is only hitting me now. A delayed response. So typical of me. He’s in the air. I’m proud and know he’ll find his way back but that doesn’t take the sting out.

In the meantime, I’ll ruminate on what he said to me yesterday (with his mouth full of chicken tenders) “Good people are rare. They don’t come along every day.”

And it takes a good person to know this. He may be flying but his roots are still here.

I close now with Luke’s favorite song that speaks volumes of his home and roots.

Have you had to let go as a mother? Do you have any tips for me to get through the next twelve months?

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40 Replies to “Roots and Wings”

  1. Luke will be fine, and he’s going to have a grand adventure! I know exactly how it feels, because as you know, my son lives in Beijing. He has always been a free spirit, and he really left me when he was only 16 to go live with the other parent and then college, and that is when it was really tough. I was not prepared for the empty nest, although I guess I am more used to it now. We never quit worrying, though, no matter how old they are. Still, it is the right thing to do, letting them spread their wings and fly. I only wish I had been allowed to do the same!

    1. Hi Ellen, it must be hard to have your son so far away. It’s one thing to hop on a plane for a 2 hour ride but Beijing…of course, he is happy and loving his work there. We want to see them happy and spreading their wings 🙂 It’s definitely a fortunate circumstance for any young adult to save their money and travel (no roots or ties to hold them back). Thanks for your encouragement today, Ellen!

  2. I know that sentiment too well Lisa…I have been a proud mother, watching my girls soar, unable to see beyond their dreams, with my eyes brimming, wishing them good luck yet yearning for those days to return when they were just mine, when I was nurturing those wings, the wings which gave me so much of grief and elation…life is full of such paradoxes dear friend.

    When children spread their wings, it seems a part of us is going away and the most precious part is so hard to let go…nothing can ever fill that vacuum. My thoughts are with you Lisa. I can empathise with you. I won’t say time will heal that tearing of the heart because it never heals. We just develop the resilience to bear the inevitable…we just learn to live without them and now tears are breaking into my eyes. Love and hugs dear friend.
    Balroop Singh recently posted…How To Understand PoetryMy Profile

    1. Hi Balrrop, you’re so right: “…life is full of such paradoxes dear friend.” 🙂 You must be very proud of your daughters. You live close to them now? Thanks for the empathy and virtual hugs, Balroop. I so appreciate your words.

        1. Aw, so nice you can be close to your grandchildren, Balroop! It’s true we can’t get those childhood days back and it’s also true that we forget the hard days. There are benefits to being over the ‘raising up’ part of motherhood. xoxo

  3. Great post Lisa! It sure resonates with me, and mine aren’t going to be away for a year😜. You wrote very eloquently about this being good for him, and an opportunity like this doesn’t often repeat itself. It takes confidence and trust in himself to do something so thrilling as travelling across the world! Good roots lady. Good roots.
    Super read.xo

    1. Hi Shali, so true that it takes confidence to plan and take that travel ‘leap’. I’m very proud of him. It’s hard being long distance with our kids! Thanks for stopping by and sharing 🙂

  4. Hi Lisa,

    Oh dear…it’s the toughest part for any mother…I know how it feels – becoming an empty nester just recently…

    I know as parents we need to be tough for our kids and let them go, knowing their future is what matters, and yes, knowing that they will return – we have that belief and faith. I guess it’s the empty lost feeling that gets to us (moms esp!) and how we miss them!! Yet, when they are back, it’s like our world has returned and things are so good once again!

    Don’t worry – Luke will be back in no time – a year will just pass in a jiffy! Love that number!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Discover Lasting Peace Through One Universal LawMy Profile

    1. Hi Harleena, oh, you too eh? 🙁 Moms esp. so true. It must have something to do with carrying them and giving birth that it’s that much harder to let go. Fathers have their own connection and worries but they seem to rise above it much quicker. Ha. Thank you for your encouragement, Harleena. Much appreciated 🙂

  5. I’m still in therapy for registering for kindergarten, so I’m hoping I get better at letting go, little by little.
    It’s a big step and you’re a wonderful mother. I’m not sure if you’ve ever put a photo of him before? I vaguely recall one of your daughter? Of course, they’re both gorgeous like you.
    Tamara recently posted…25+ Ways to Have a Spring RefreshMy Profile

    1. Yes, it will Tamara. I remember first day of K vividly. Also first day of Grade 1 when my son took the bus for the first time. He asked me to ride behind it. He waved the whole way. Ha. Actually, I don’t think I’ve put pics of the kids on the blog before. At one time, I had a pic of them in the About Me section but I took those out 😛 Aw, thank you, Tamara!

  6. I’ve never had to let go as a mother, but I watched my sister make it through her son’s first year of college this year. She is extremely close to him and misses him a lot. It’s been quite the transition for her. Luckily, he’s a good kid and handles his mommy missing him well.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Bruce BallengerMy Profile

    1. Hi Jeri, I’m sure you’re a wonderful support for your sister as well. Yes, we give the kids ‘H–l’ when they don’t return calls, that way they learn to reply promptly LOL. Your nephew sounds like a good kid!

  7. first of all, i enjoyed reading this. you write well. second… AUSTRALIA!! what a fabulous place to spend a year. i hope he loves it there. i hope the year is long for him so he can soak it all in and short for you and your son returns with all kinds of fantastic stories to share so yall can stay up late talking about them… and that the stories he will tell warm your heart in ways that can’t normally be done.
    jen recently posted…a letter to my forty-four-year-old selfMy Profile

  8. Lisa, I’m still looking for the *Mom-emotional-rollercoster disclaimer* at the top.
    You BISH
    This early in the morning.
    I’m going to have to go and snuggle the shit out of my child for a very long time and he will wonder what the hell is wrong and I will pet his face and tell him “HUSSSSSSSSHHHHH….you’re never leaving me my precious” or something weird like that and then this afternoon he’ll tell his therapist that I went super effing weird.
    So thanks Lisa. Thanks.
    Just kidding. I love this. This is inevitable. I’m watching my 20 year old niece grow and my 21 year old nephew inch out the door and I’m like “But you wore that little tux in my wedding.”
    Sigh. You wrote this so beautifully. I want to give you a hug. I really do. Love you Lisa.
    Kimberly recently posted…Let Him WriteMy Profile

    1. Ah! Kim your comment made me smile. Sorry for the lack of disclaimer 😛 YES do that to your little guy! He will be bewildered and probably respond with “Mo-oom” drawing out the ah sound. Haha. My kids still respond to me with that cheeky, ‘frustrated with mom’ remark. Amazing how it flies by. The first five years seem like they will go on forever then something happens and it all speeds up! Thanks for the hugs, Kim! Love ya back, lady.

    1. Balance isn’t always easy to find. Yes, my daughter is 24 and my son 22. Same as your sons? Empty nesting it…has its perks, don’t get me wrong 😀

  9. Oh, Lisa. My heart aches for you. There’s no guidebook for this kind of stuff, but you are doing a really REALLY amazing thing. I know it doesn’t take away from the initial hurt but you are going to greet a young man who is going to learn so much in this year and he’s going to be ever grateful for you. You are giving him a gift unlike any he’ll ever receive in life.

    also THIS SONG! It’s amazing. Thank you for sharing. I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now. Damn it. I’m with Kim. It’s late here now, but I’m all weepy and I DON’T EVEN HAVE KIDS! LOL.

    I know what you mean re: roots and feeling grounded (I’ve been feeling that way myself lately) and what it’s like to have wings.

    Sending all my love to you. I’m always here though, you know that 🙂 You have my email. Contact me anytime, my sweet friend.
    Charlotte recently posted…If I had the ballsMy Profile

    1. Aw, thank you Charlotte but you give me too much credit. This is his thing…and he’s a traveler at heart. He’s already been to Europe twice and I survived that…haha. You’re right he will learn and have great experiences which is what we all want for our kids. I may go visit—we’ll see. Isn’t that song sweet? Soooo Prairie. Thank you for the love and hugs! I really appreciate the support and of course some days I miss him and worry while other days I just accept that he’s half way around the world. p.s. we all have wings…some of us don’t know why-Bono quote 🙂

      1. I was actually going to ask if there was maybe a possibility for a visit–that’s amazing! I’ll keep fingers crossed that it happens 🙂 Do you both have the ability to Skype? I know it’s not the same, but it’ll help I hope!

        XOXO
        Charlotte recently posted…If I had the ballsMy Profile

        1. Yes, face time calls (he promised). Actually with our technology these days, I really shouldn’t complain 😛 Skype, emails, face time, face book messaging….there’s so many choices. Back in the olden days (I’m that old) there was only long distance calling and telegrams—can’t even imagine it now. Haha!

  10. I can imagine, as a mother, how hard this period can be for you Lisa. At the same time I believe that when kids feel safe flying away it means they know where they belong.
    The balance is never that easy to find. I guess this is part of our stories as mothers, giving them everything we can and one day be able to let them go, so they can create the life they want.
    My son is too young for me to think about this but my time will come. And I will not be prepared, I’ll just try, as you did, to carry my pain and not pass it on, to deal with my loss on my own.
    Reach out to a good friend if you can!
    Sending you much love. xoxo

    1. You’re so intuitive Marie. This: “I believe that when kids feel safe flying away it means they know where they belong.” So true and thank you for that reminder. You don’t have to worry about the ’empty nest’ for a long time and I might add that in spite of the feeling of loss, there are good things too. More time to pursue your creative goals for example and much more. I’m lucky in having good friends and several who are going through the same thing right now. Thanks, Marie for your kind words and sending love back to you! xxoo

  11. So…. I am the child who thinks it’s always a good idea to move to the other side of the world and I’m sure I’ve broken my Mum’s heart on more than one occasion. Luckily now, unlike when I first moved from Australia to the UK, there are so many ways to stay in touch you really don’t miss out on anything (speaking for myself but I’m sure my Mum would have mentioned if it was really hard for her by now). But I guess I’m a lot older than when I first went away and she’s used to my “hey — I’ve decided to move to NYC” announcements. A year will go by so quickly – and if you get a chance you should definitely go and visit my home country — it’s awesome!

    1. Ah, ha! Busted! 🙂 Ultimately, we want to see you happy and thriving and if that means moving to a new place and exploring?—that also makes us happy. So good for you for following your dreams. It isn’t easy to pack up and move to a new country.
      The only time I was questioning my kids was when my daughter started working as a bike courier (I pictured a car accident and her in the hospital) and my son trekked through France alone. Between the two of them, I thought they were trying to kill me off LOL.
      Yes, I hope to go there and see your country. My son says it’s beautiful!
      lisa recently posted…Making a New Home for You & Your Children After DivorceMy Profile

  12. Aw Lisa! My mama heart aches for you! What a beautiful way to describe motherhood and this difficult journey of letting our kids fly… but one whole year is unimaginable! Oh so hard.

    I could just picture you blowing him a kiss… and coming home to that quiet apartment and the reality crashing hard. I’m so glad you wrote about it.

    This was such a true testimony to a mother’s love, YOUR love.
    Christine Carter recently posted…Breaking News! Self Care During These Turbulent TimesMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Chris. It was a hard day even though I don’t show it. I guess that’s why we write…to reveal our true feelings when circumstances don’t always allow it. Thanks for your lovely comment!

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