There is a Hebrew song, written by the singer Arik Einstein, that begins like this:
My chicks have left the nest/ they spread their wings and flew/ and I, an old bird, am alone in the nest/ hoping that all will be well.
I always knew the day will come/ to say fare well/ but now it came so suddenly/ it’s no surprise I’m afraid.
Fly baby bird/ slash through the sky/ fly wherever you like/ but don’t forget/ there’s a hawk in the sky/ be aware.
My children are nine and eleven, too young for me to worry about when grown up they will wish to go out into the world on their own. As a parent, I feel that my most important job I as a parent have is to prepare them for that moment. To give them wings, so when the time comes, they can fly.
At age fifteen. I wanted to go to boarding school, the High School for Environmental Studies in Sde Boker, Israel. My parents did not approve, and I stayed home. At eighteen I spread my wings and flew back to Israel and the army. I was back home at 21. And here I still am. I have my own house. I am independent. I have two children. I have dogs despite my parents’ disapproval. I suppose I fly, but I also like staying near the nest. I enjoy speaking to my parents daily on the phone and seeing them at least 3-4 times a week.
Despite what can be seen as my awkward attempts to break free of the nest, I am a believer of “You are not truly independent till you’ve lived next door to your parents and learned to say no.” I have lived next door to my parents and certainly struggled with this “no.” But the amount of joy I receive while spending time with my parents is considerably larger than the few times they irritate me or make me feel like I’m a child again.
But I wanted to write about my children, not my parents. Though I’m sure the child I was affects the parent I am today. What I felt I needed as a child is what I long to give to my own children now that I’m a mother. I don’t know how successful I am, but the wish to give my children wings to fly and building their trust so they can use those wings when the moment comes is at the core of who I am as a mother. And that’s how I want it to stay, even when the totally surprising and unexpected moment of them wanting to leave the house finally comes my way.
Next week my son is going away for a first overnight trip with his class. A good experience for both of us: for me to let him try out his little baby wings, and for him to trust in his own ability to spread those wings and