Mouth Guards And Wings


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Babies, Boys, Childrearing, Confidence, Emotions, Encouragement, Family, Life Lessons, Love, Mother, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Parenting, Sports | Posted on 20-09-2012

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At the hospital, the nurses told me to hold my newborn like a football when I fed him.

Now this six-foot-tall young man plays football. With swarms of teenager girls watching.

I was not prepared for this.

I have mothered this boy-man for 13 years. As the years and milestones pass, I try to support his independence, steer his choices, but ultimately let go. And it’s difficult.

One of my favorite parenting mantras is:

β€œThere are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give to our children. One of them is roots. The other is wings.”

I’m better at the roots part. You know, the love and nurturing part?

I am trying to be better at the wings part.

Take for example, football. Do I want my son playing a sport where his body is jostled around and he is required to wear a mouth guard–not only to protect his pretty teeth but to prevent jaw injuries at mega impact? It’s nerve-racking signing all of the concussion waivers. It’s also kinda awesome seeing him in his full gear–with helmet and pads–looking like a man.

He really really wants to play. And he is committed to doing his best.

I am proud of his dedication and enthusiasm. And because of this, I must let go and let him grow. And be his cheerleader.

I can’t help but think of the children’s song, Eagles, which sums up my belief in raising children: letting go.

May this big boy of mine fly down that football field with his mouth guard and his budding wings. I will be watching with love, support, and faith in him. And I may also be sporting a tear or two.

These pictures show me with my son then…now.


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Comments (20)

Blast you, Pippi, for making me tear up.

I agree with U on this. It seems that one day I woke up and my son was no longer that little boy. He is trying to learn how to cook and is talking to me about girls. And has some how went from 5’3 to 5’7 and half over night it seems. And I wish 4 the days that I could still cradle him in my arms, But then I think a few seconds later look at the handsome, smart man he is becoming I am so proud!

I know, right?

That song makes me tear up. Writing this post (which took me ages) made me tear up. And we finally took a picture of me with my big boy at his game today. I saw the photo and I teared up.

I sure hope I burn calories with all of this crying.

Thanks for being so sweet,

Ah, that is the sweetest comment! My son sounds like yours. We spend time in the kitchen together and he asks me how to make eggs and heat up frozen burritos. πŸ™‚ That is awesome that you two talk…that is so important!

I think back lovingly at the baby he was, but like you, I am so full of love and pride when I look at him now and see what he is learning and becoming. Except when he acts like an ass, then I’m like, “OK, you need to sweep the kitchen NOW.” πŸ™‚

Thanks for sharing!


That one made me tear up too and I’ve got girls! I’m nowhere NEAR ready to let them grow wings and fly, yet I know it must be done. My oldest, 15, has a great group of friends and does so many things away from home that those times when we are in the house together, I need to cherish them. Because in just a few short years she’ll be off to college and I’ll have one left in the nest. When they both grow wings and I’m on the ground watching them soar, I’ll beam with pride (but probably cry like a baby.)

Great blog post!!

You have put into words what my heart has been feeling for a long time. With 2 sons, 13 & 17, I now realize that what everyone told me when they were babies (“Enjoy this time, they grow up so fast.”), is so very true. Thank you for your wisdom, insight, and tender heart. You’re the best Pippi!

Thank you for your lovely note.

I think children are angels to give us that message of enjoying the present. And we need to help give them their future.


Thank you for sharing your story. But you are preparing them now for their wings later and every little time you support them doing things independently, you are giving them wing buds. It probably started when they were learning to stand and sit by themselves. You encouraged them to balance on their own and then you beamed and smiled and clapped. See? You already began many years ago.

Now you are making me tear up, you silly goose.


P.S. And glad you liked my post. It took me quite awhile to ponder and write…in fact it took me 13 years. πŸ™‚

Well, I just read it but I’m not crying at all. Neither men cry or lie. I was reading it cutting some onions. God bless you and all of yours!

Multitasking at its finest! Thank you for stopping by and reading!

So, what are you making?

Oh mama. You mean they get that big someday????? Not what I signed up for.

I just made vegetable kabobs for supper!

Please send me some…and thank you!

It’s total craziness! So please enjoy all of those milestones…you’ve got a lot of ’em to last you awhile!


Oh boy. My son is almost 12 now and I still can’t believe it. Whenever I see little boys running around I get wistful… yeah, the roots part is much easier than the wings part!!!

Wow, so you know what I mean! I think if you’re good at the roots part, you will learn (over time) be forced to be better at the wings part. Good luck!

Parenting sure takes a lot of you emotionally, huh?

Thanks for writing,

love this…football hold…oh my heart.

Awww! You made me cry. My oldest is 13 too. It’s so hard to let go. I’m no good at it.

My boy still always tells me he loves me when he walks out the door or at the end of a phone call. I think when that stops, my heart will break into a million pieces.

What’s that saying about having a child is like watching your heart walk around outside your body? So true.

Aw, thanks.


Aw, you’re sweet.

If your oldest is 13 and still tells you he loves you all the time (mine does too–we have some keepers!), then he probably will when he’s 31.

Thanks for sharing,

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