Roots and Wings


Roots and Wings | Columbia SC Moms Blog

They say the greatest gift you can give your children is roots and wings. And I get it – roots so they know where they’re from and wings so they know what they can become. In theory, this makes sense.

But the reality of it? Oof. It’s unsettling and scary when you see your kids start flapping their little wings, and you know they’re going somewhere, but you’re not exactly sure where or what to expect or how to guide them through the inevitable challenges.

Unfounded Fears

I worried before we sent our oldest daughter to preschool (she wasn’t quite two at the time) – was she ready for school five days a week? Was I a bad or lazy mom for sending her since I was at home at that point? Would she miss me? Would she think I was abandoning her when I dropped her off? All completely unfounded fears – she loved her teachers, her friends, her new-found independence, and all that she was learning.

I worried again before she started kindergarten. We moved to Columbia just four days before – would she make friends? Was she ready for “real” school? Was this the right school for her? How was she already old enough for “real” school? Was it all going to move this quickly? Again, completely unfounded fears – she loved her new friends, learning to read, learning math, and going to school with big kids.

Venturing into the Unknown. Again.

Fast forward – and I mean FAST forward – to seven years later. She’s graduated from the sweet school that’s been part of our entire Columbia life and the first place we found our people. Before this month is over, she’ll begin a new school, fully entrenched in middle school where “real” things can happen. She’ll make new friends – kids I haven’t known for seven years, whose parents I don’t know, whose values I don’t know. She’ll face new challenges – tests of her values and her courage and her fortitude. Have we given her deep enough roots? What if her wings take her in the wrong direction?

What Now?

Is she ready? Will she know what to do in a scary or dangerous situation? We’ve talked about all the things – the dangers of social media, drinking, drugs, pressure from boys – but have they been the right conversations? What about the stuff we don’t even know about yet? Does she have the right tools to navigate through this on her own (with guidance, of course) as she figures out who she wants to be? The Professor (aka my husband) and I try not to be too overprotective and let our girls make mistakes, but what’s too much? What’s not enough? Are her wings strong enough to keep her close to her roots?

How do you balance letting her know how much you love her and want to take care of her with letting her become the woman she’s meant to be? Sometimes, she makes great decisions and handles new and scary situations like a boss, and I love the wings! Other times, she handles them like a 12-year-old girl, and I think we need more (very intensive) work on the roots.

Watching these kids grow is extraordinary and amazing and humbling and terrifying. The anticipation of the adventures that await can make you giddy – to imagine what they will do and who they will become – it’s staggering. We have to let them go and stretch their wings. Sometimes they’ll fall – and that’s OK – because sometimes they’ll fly.

So to all of you out there sending your kids off on a new adventure – let’s do this. Let’s trust ourselves, that we’ve done our very best up to this point to give them deep roots. And let’s trust them to remember their roots and use their wings to soar.

What new adventures are facing you and your kid(s)? How are you handling it?

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Wildly in love with her perfectly imperfect life, Kathy’s been married to her most favorite person in the world, “The Professor,” for 14 years. They moved to Columbia from Atlanta seven years ago and are enjoying raising their two girls, Gracie (12½) and Tate (10) here. After undergrad and her MBA, Kathy worked in Corporate America for 10 years before retiring to work full-time for the girls. Most recently, she was a grant writer at a college here in town, but had to leave that job when her family moved to New Zealand for six months for The Professor’s sabbatical. She started her blog,, to document that amazing adventure, but now she’s home and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Again. Probably the loudest and most foul-mouthed introvert you’ll ever meet, she can usually be found curled up with a trashy romance novel, on the tennis court, at her awesome gym, or drinking wine with people she loves.


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