One of the fundamental goals and responsibilities for me as a parent for the last 21 years has been the notion of giving my children Roots and Wings. To raise them in a way that they feel they have a strong sense of self and of belonging and at the same time instilling in them through unconditional love, trust and respect the confidence to truly spread their wings and fly. I'm not sure I've done this consciously over the years but I've certainly been able to articulate it more coherently recently.
Along with this idea of roots and wings I've always hoped that when my children do indeed leave home (2 down, 1 to go!) they will choose to come and visit me not out of a sense of misplaced duty but because they not only love me but probably more importantly in this case......they like me! That for me will be the ultimate sign of success as a mother.
What do I actually mean by roots and wings? For me roots are about having a sense of what home is. Home not as in the bricks and mortar necessarily although this does help but home as the unconditional love and support that home gives. It is the understanding of family and of values. A shelter from the storm, a place inside that is always home. My understanding of roots is also about having a sense of place in the world.
Think of it literally. A plant that is given food and the correct amount of water, talking to (my grandmother talked to her plants and I do too) and tender loving care WILL grow a strong root system that will sustain it through drought and growth spurts, wind and rain.
By roots, I'm also implying an understanding of oneself, perhaps this is because of my interest in personal development. I want for my children that they have spent sometime exploring who they are as people in a safe, loving and non judgmental environment and what better place than at home.
We will all have different experiences in how we were raised and we often either continue in the same vein (either consciously because it was a good experience or unconsciously because we are sleepwalking), or we react against our upbringing and do something quite different. There are of course shades of grey along this path of child rearing too!
Some of us may well have been raised with very strong roots (sometimes these can strangle). We know who we are, who our family is, and we have a very strong identity. We may also have been given the impression of having wings. However,they may well be wings that have been clipped so we can't really fly. We may be the bird that has wings but sits on a perch in a cage and can fly nowhere. These are not the wings I mean.
To give our children wings means to truly give them the freedom to fly the nest. To trust and love them completely. To give them our blessings to choose the path they will walk. To give them wings without conditions. This is a gift from us to them.
My son returned home after three years at university, he was with me for six months before finding his own place to live. He has big plans which may well involve living overseas. I give him my blessing with all my heart to go where he chooses. I know that he will come to see me, that I will always be part of his life. Because I have given him wings with which to fly I know that those wings will fly back home too when he needs to reconnect......there is always a batch of brownies on the go in my home!
Remember this............. our children are only on loan to us!