Roots and Wings: It’s been quite a week around here with lots of transition, change and even a maiden flight in my kitchen! If you follow along here on weekends, you know we dropped our oldest son Jonathan at Samford University in Birmingham last week.
(And if you’re new, I post recipes during the week and muse on the weekends.)
A close friend there in Birmingham reminded me of this Roots and Wings quote I love by Hodding Carter:
“There are two gifts we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”
The various directions my mind is going with this post are dizzying, and it would probably be about three posts long if I just went with it. So I’ll spare you some detail.
But lots of interesting things happened in the space of a week around here, and it was the sequence that was so unusual.
Two weeks ago I took our Hudson and Charlie to The Butterfly Place just over the border in Westford, MA.
Hudson, who has Down syndrome, is absolutely fascinated by birds. At the beach he fixates on every seagull in sight and is captivated, often jumps up with urgency to go make friends.
But they never stick around long enough to meet him. Hmmmm….
So I thought The Butterfly Place might be a hit with Hudson. And I was right. It’s a large, open rainforest-type area with hundreds of multi-colored butterflies in flight. If you’ve never visited one of these butterfly sanctuaries, it’s truly amazing.
So I’ve had butterflies on the brain. And then just a few days before we left for Birmingham, I came into possession of a monarch caterpillar. I’ll tell you more details about how all that transpired later.
Our new “pet” munched and crunched through lots of milkweed leaves in our kitchen. I actually had to put newspapers under it. (Who knew hungry caterpillars need litter boxes?)
And right before we left for Birmingham, during the cover of night while the rest of us were sleeping, it curled up and encased itself in a shiny green chrysalis. All the time we were gone, it quietly incubated, hanging by a thread from a leaf on our kitchen counter.
Several days after we got home, it noiselessly wriggled out of its chrysalis as a gorgeous monarch butterfly, dried off its wings and flew its maiden flight. Right in our kitchen. It was fascinating. A timely and poignant reminder to me that change isn’t necessarily bad. Even with struggle, it can actually be breathtaking.
Observing that caterpillar transform into a butterfly at exactly this time in my life was a gift. Here I’d just dropped a child off at college for the first time.
And now he too is spreading his wings. Taking flight. The story is being written.
And while there are bittersweet moments just thinking about how far away he is, flight is a beautiful thing when you’re grounded and have roots.
So this morning I say to Jonathan and all his wonderful classmates and friends who have also entered the next phase of the journey: FLY!
Fly high and long. Deep and wide. Sometimes you’ll crash. And that’s ok. (We all did too.) Because you’ll get back up and soar again, maybe higher the next time. It’s the ascent, descent and nose dives in between that truly grow us anyway.
You’re dearly loved by your families. And you’re ready! You’ve got what you need, you’ve been preparing for independence all along. And when things get stormy (as they will) – keep looking Up.
Know that your families are here for you, no matter the miles. We pray for you often, and trust you’ll cling to your deep roots. Always remember your Roots and Wings. Because knowing who you are and where you came from is key to discerning where you’re headed.
And to my dear friends flung far and wide who are also on this transitional journey: you’re in my thoughts and prayers as we adjust together.
Sending big bear hugs to all, have a beautiful holiday weekend. XO
You may also like: Wax Up Your Wings
Aunt Pinkie says
Love it, Allie- thanks for this musing!
Thank you Aunt Pinkie!
That is absolutely perfect! thank you for sharing that! Praying for your boy (and many others :))as they begin to soar into this new chapter.
Thanks friend, I know we’re traveling through road together. Apart. Prayers for you guys too.
Love this, Allie — interesting thematic tie-in of your pet caterpillar trading in its chrysalis for wings, with the concept of a good family sinking down deep roots and reaping healthy butterflies such as, for instance, Jonathan! Good work on both Jonathan and this piece of writing! It turns our minds towards our Creator, the amazing One who conceived of it all in the first place! XOXO
Thanks Mom. XO
Love this, Allie!! Been praying for you guys & Jonathan. Some days it feels like just yesterday I was that terrified college freshman. Hard to believe it’s been 12(!) years ago. Crashed A LOT but fairly good at flying now:). I’ve found my wings!
Thank you so much for the prayers Maggie, you have definitely found your wings that’s for sure. And you have a beautiful heart besides. XO
Thank you, Allie. Love you <3!
yvonne Jensen says
That is the most beautiful thing i have ever read!!!!!
Yvonne…thank you for these very kind words and for dropping by. You made my week.
Susie Mandel says
Thank you friend. You saw the butterfly in the chrysalis, right? (Everything is running together these days.) P.S. the chocolates are divine.
I can’t believe that this will be Clarke next year…..does not seem possible. – Leslie
I know, the time is just racing past us and these little toddlers are suddenly towering over us and nearly independent. How can this be? XO
So beautiful Allie, am forwarding on to several friends who, like me, just set their babies free. Never gets easier, but to see each of them become butterflies, is priceless… My love to all of you as you begin this exciting new journey ❤️
Leslie, thank you. I know you have a wealth of experience in this department. Thanks for the love, we are missing Jonathan but I know he is in a wonderful place and glad to be there.
Leslie D says
I just shared your article with Tommy D. and his response (which is so true) is to expect them to come home as moths on occasion before they become butterflies ? As you mentioned, as they learn to adjust to their new found freedoms – they will crash or flutter at times, but they soon enough will find their wings can soar – as they remember their roots ❤️
Oh that is so funny, I’ll be on the look-out for moths. You’ve got a funny guy Leslie. please give him our love and save some for you and the boys. XO
This is so true!! Even with dropping child #3 – we still miss them but it’s bittersweet for sure 🙂 <3
Its so neat that God gave you that beautiful gift as a concrete reminder too!
Wow – hard to believe you and Nate have done this three times. I sure hope it gets easier Sharie! I was pretty amazed at the timing of the butterfly too – a true gift. xo
Beautiful! Love your writing, photos, and graphics!! Blessings… 🙂
Hi Kathy – thanks so much for dropping by, and for the very kind words. Loved hearing from you. XO
Wow!! What a beautiful experience of nurturing a caterpillar into a butterfly, I was filled with joy reading this post. I’m always excited around college time, I know some wonderful kids will find themselves in a new life taking on a new adventure. I’m in my 30s with no kids but I remember my freshman year like it was yesterday.
Hey Mary – thanks so much for dropping by and for your thoughts. Freshman year at college is a poignant time for sure. (Also for the mothers!) Hope you are having a wonderful week!
Such a beautiful post, Allie. Thank you.
Thanks my friend, I hope you’re having a beautiful week. XO
Thank you, babe, for putting into words what so many feel in our hearts. Change never comes without some ache for what is lost, but otherwise we will not experience this new dimension in our relationships with our children.
You said it my love. XO
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Awwww, such a beautiful post, Allie!! You have been in my thoughts and prayers (as always), but especially because I know how hard it was for you to drop your son off at college! I LOVE that quote – “There are two gifts we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.” SO TRUE. I know the person you are and I have not a doubt that all your children have strong roots, and that they will fly high and accomplish GREAT things. Cheers, my dear friend and Happy Labor Day!
P.S. So amazing you had a monarch butterfly take its first flight in your kitchen!! I’m sure that was inspiring and beautiful! XOXO
Thank you Cheyanne – (SHY-anne). Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. It’s a little quieter around here, and even the butterfly has departed, probably halfway to Mexico by now. I hear that’s where they migrate in the fall. I loved the quote and glad it resonated with you also. Have a beautiful week, friend! XO
Shashi at RunninSrilankan says
Awww dear, sweet, Allie, I so so love this post! I love that quote by Hodding Carter and that Poem by Dennis Waitley – in fact, think I’m gonna print that one out by Dennis Waitley and add it to my little stack of going-away-presents for my daughter for next year when she spreads her wings and flies. You heart is beautiful my friend, you and your hubs are such amazing parents, and people – I’m so honored and humbled to have met you! That emerging Monarch butterfly might have been God’s little message to you – kinda like all those things we sometimes mistakenly call “coincidences”. So love this – and you! xoxo
Right back atcha, sister. There’s a little lump in my throat right now and things are suddenly blurry after reading your note. So grateful we’ve met on this journey and thankful for the different yet similar paths we travel. Glad you loved that poem too. Yep, the butterfly was definitely God’s little message to me. I guess He knew I needed it. Providence for sure. Love you back, have a beautiful week sweet Shashi! XO
Barbara Child says
So beautifully said, Allie! Thanks for this lovely reminder of what is important to convey to our children!
Thank you so much Barbara, hope you had a wonderful trip!
Dear Allie, I just love that saying and the poem. It’s so true too. I feel like no matter what stage in life you are in, life is constantly changing and evolving. You know, after Hurricane Sandy and the divorce which happened all at once, I wondered how I would ever find my way back to solid ground. But with God’s grace I did…I found this strength inside me I never knew existed. I think we’ve all felt like that caterpillar. What a beautiful post my friend. Thank you for sharing this…it’s just what I needed to read.
Blessings to you and your beautiful family. xoxo, Catherine
Dear Catherine, thank you for this very gracious comment and for dropping by. You are without a doubt one of the strongest women I know, and I know Where that strength comes from. Somehow you’ve found the joy despite the circumstances. Life sure is a journey and I’m thankful to have met you along the way. Wishing you a beautiful day my friend. XO